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Children under a Palm Tree Painting - A mother fights for Justice

Winslow Homer's Children Under a Palm Tree Painting Scandal

Winslow Homer's Children Under a Palm Tree Painting Scandal

Fake or Real Masterpiece

The Art world is a mysterious journey that can take you back in time. Not only can it tell the story of the Artist, but if you look a bit closer, it can reveal a story of intrigue, greed or family feuds. When an Artist paints, he is thinking about the subject, but not of the aftermath. Little does he know that one day his picture will cause a battle that not only involves the Law Courts, but also will involve the greatest Auction House of Today. Sotheby's.

The story starts on a day way back in the 1980s. Tony Varney, a fisherman and his daughter Selina, had gone fishing at his local spot, in County Cork, Ireland. On the way back, they happened to walk past a Rubbish Dump. This is a place where everyone comes to throw away all their old garbage. TV's, sofa's, chairs and broken pieces of rubbish that they no longer want.

As they walked past, Tony spotted just outside the dump, a few old pictures thrown down on the ground. They didn't have any frames, and if he had left them there, they would have been ruined by the rain. Tony liked collecting things, in fact he has quite a collection of old pictures and other objects, that he likes to keep. Mainly bought at garage sales, charity shops and so on. So, leaning down, he brushed of the dirt, and decided to take them home to keep them safe from ruin.

Then for the next 20 years he forgot about them.

Then in May 2008, he decided to take them to the Antiques Roadshow in Althorp, Northampton England. This is a popular TV program made by the BBC.

When Tony Arrived, he was told that the other pictures were not valuable, but there was one that could well be worth in the excess of 30,000 pounds, approx 50,000 dollars. As you can imagine, he was stunned. He learned that the work, Children Under a Palm Tree, had most likely been painted by Winslow Homer. A very important water colourist in America in the 19th Century.

After the initial shock, Tony decided to let the Antiques Roadshow investigate how such a great Painting could end up on a rubbish dump in Ireland.

So they set out to try to track down it's History. And of course figure out if it was a fake or the real thing.

A Very Important Piece

After investigation, they found that the painting was indeed an authentic Winslow Homer. Taking the search further they realised that one of the other paintings found, had a connection to Homer, and the search was on to try and find out more about the story.

At the same time, they decided to put it up for sale at Sotheby's.

At this point, there wasn't any reason to think that there would be any problem with the sale of the Painting. Nobody had ever reported it missing, or stolen. As far as Tony was concerned it was just another pretty water colour that happened to have been thrown away. In fact Tony Varney and Selina, were more interested in the history of the piece. After twenty long years of collecting dust in a cupboard, they thought it was time that someone else had a chance to own this wonderful Painting.

Selina is a part time carer, and has four children. They are not a wealthy family, and Selina was really excited to think that she could use the money for the children to help them with their future. She was really looking forward to the sale, not just for the money, but because of the whole experience. Nothing like this had ever happened to her. So this was an exciting time.

Then it got even better. Selina and Tony were given the great news. The painting was in fact worth more.

A lot more.

It was well on the way to being sold for 150,000 pounds!

Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer

Who was Winslow Homer the Artist?

Winslow Homer was a landscape artist. Born on February 24 1836, he was well known for painting marine subjects. He also practised printmaking.

Being self taught, he practised with water colours and started his career as a commercial illustrator. He soon turned his talent to oil painting. Being most profficient in both water colours and oil, he soon became very well known.

In 1859 he opened a studio in New York City. For a few years he attended The National Academy of Design, and then went on to study with Frederic Rondel, who taught him the basics of Painting. He died on September 29 1910.

Scroll to Continue
Simon Murray the great grandson

Simon Murray the great grandson

Work by Winslow Homer

Myrtle Grove

In 2009, Selina and her father packed their case and headed off to New York. The Painting was going up for sale at Sotheby's. Everything was in place, the picture was ready, and all the catalogues had been sent out weeks before. There shouldn't have been a problem. But then out of the blue, Selina received a phone call.

Somehow, there had been a claim on the Painting!

The descendants of Sir Henry Arthur Blake, who was a British Colonial administrator, back in the 19th Century, stated that the painting was of Sir Henry's children, so therefore the painting still belonged to them!

Evidently they claim that it had been in their family for generations, and had been stolen years ago. Homer had Painted the picture when they had all met up abroad. Homer had then given their descendants the Painting as a gift. But the only trouble was that when the relatives were interviewed they kept coming up with a different story.

Lies and More Lies

On searching for the history of the painting, Sotheby's had managed to find the Blake family, and explained to them about the find. At this point, Sotheby's had been in contact with Mrs. Blake, and she was told about the Painting. She had also been given the Auction Catalogue which shows clearly the Painting and the sale price. She was very surprised to hear about it. And at the beginning, the family were not interested in the Painting. They explained that they had no record of a burglary, and no recollection of the actual work. Nobody had ever reported it missing, and in fact they hadn't even known of its existence.

While Sotheby's stated that they had let the Blakes know about the painting, and they had no objection to the sale, the Blakes had then decided weeks later that actually they did know it had been stolen and were interested in what was happening. Even worse, they claim that nobody had got in touch with them about it, and the first that they knew about the Painting was when Mrs. Blake had seen it in the newspaper in the States! She was on holiday, and just happened to find it when she was looking for something in the said paper! In other words, it was just a coincidence that she happened to be there at the same time as the sale. In other words she was calling Sotheby's a liar.

Then came the biggest bombshell. They wanted to sell the painting and give Selina just 25 percent of the proceeds.

Selina refused the offer. She was then told that she could sell it, and sort out the problem after the sale. 10 minutes before the painting was sold, she was called to the office and told that it had been withdrawn! Without an injuction, without any form off proof, the other party had stopped the sale!

Simon Murray, Sir Henry's great great grandson, gave an interview on camera stating that actually yes they did know of it, and refused to budge on the issue. When asked why he wanted to sell the painting, he stated that, 'Myrtle Grove, the family house needs a lot of renevating and we need the money for that'! He then went on to make an insulting remark about Selina and her family. He states, ' I feel sorry for her, I really do, I know she wanted the money for a swimming pool or loads of cars'!

This man, who comes from a family that is so wealthy they can jet of around the world just when they feel like it, belittles Selina, who is a kind and loving mother. But Selina held onto her dignity by not responding. Not only is Simon rich, he is also a lawyer. Therefore he knows exactly how to handle the case.

After the sale was stopped, Selina and her family spend the next year trying every way to get Justice. She has even been visited by the Police, who claim she may be prosecuted for theft!

Just over a year later, the Blake family allege that they have found documents, letters that mention the party that the children had gone too, and the description of the clothes they were wearing in the Painting. This, say the Blakes is irrefutable proof that the painting is theirs.

They stated that as it was a family piece then it should automatically come back to the family.

The Outcome

Sadly, there isn't any change on the horizon. Selina and her father, have been offered 25 per cent of the sale, and the rest of the money is to go to the Drakes. That of course is what would happen if Selina agreed.

But she didn't. As she states,' If we hadn't found the painting, it would have been ruined within a couple of days, or even a few hours. We saved it. They knew nothing about it.'

The case is still going on nearly three years after the first visit to the Antique Roadshow. .

Latest Below....!

Myrtle Grove

Home to the Blakes. Previous owners were Oliver Cromwell and Sir Walter Raleigh.

Home to the Blakes. Previous owners were Oliver Cromwell and Sir Walter Raleigh.

My Opinion

I do understand both parties. On retrospect. The Blakes believe it is a family portrait and therefore it should go back to them. Selina believes that as her father found it, and kept it for 20 years, without anyone claiming it, then it belongs to her. The fact is that the Painting ended up in the Rubbish dump somehow. My personal belief is that either the Blakes who live there now, had the house cleared out, and all the rubbish was taken to to rubbish dump.

Or they moved in after their relative had died and they inherited the house. Either way the original owner, for whatever reason, decided at the time, that they didn't want the Painting, along with other goods, and threw them away. There was no burglary, as the Blakes stated in the first place. So surely the law just has to decide whether if you throw something away, have you a claim to it now? I don't know. all I know is that surely they can come to some agreement.

One other thing that I think should be mentioned. If there had been a burglary back in the 80s, and someone had deliberately targeted Paintings, believing they were valuable, then surely the thief would know how famous Homer was? You would not break into a house, steal an old picture without a frame, take it outside, look at it then throw it on the dump! Doesn't make sense, does it?!

Why not just split the money in half. Now there's a thought. The one advantage of all the publicity surrounding the story is that the Painting will increase in price. Maybe that is what the Blake family are hoping for.

Latest Update from October 2013 and May 2015

According to Wikipedia, in October 2013 The London Evening Standard reported that Shirley Rountree (Simon's mother) was suing Sothebys for the return of the painting.

According to Sothebys, they have issued a statement that says:

'The ownership of the painting is still being disputed and should be settled in the Courts'.

The latest news on this amazing story is that Clifford Schorer a rich entrepreneur, says he loaned Selena Rendall an unspecified amount of money in 2012, and she backed the loan with the painting - which is estimated to be worth as much as $250,000.

Clifford has since tried to retrieve the Painting from Sotheby's but they still refuse to let him take it. Even though the Blake family have never pressed its ownership. It is still an ongoing case.

Only a change of ownership from Selena to Clifford has maybe helped to alter the dynamics of the argument. In other words Selena may not have much say or push in court, but a top business man will.

we will see!

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Nell Rose (author) from England on October 05, 2020:

Thanks Imogen, the Fake or Fortune programme this was on is probably the most famous. So many people around the world have commented on it. It would be good to see whats happened now.

Imogen French from Southwest England on October 05, 2020:

Fascinating story. I love it on the Antiques Roadshow when they discover a lost painting or valuable item - you always think it's going to mean a happy ending. Obviously not in this case. I hope it's resolved soon, for the family's sake.

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 24, 2020:

Thanks GS. Yes it would be great to go back home to where Homer comes from. thanks so much for reading.

G. S. 2020 comment on September 23, 2020:

If Mr. Shorer wins and the painting ends up In Worcester Museum ( in Connecticut), it couldn’t have a better home. Worcester is known for it’s collection of great American artists and Homer is right up there in the top. As I live one state over, I hope to see it one day.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 19, 2020:

Exactly Shauna, it was just greed. I do wish we could get a more up to date answer though. Thanks as always.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 19, 2020:

Nell, I didn't see any mention of a police report for the alleged theft of the painting (that no one even remembered until its value became known). Without a police report how can the Blakes claim it as theirs?

I say "finders keepers, losers weepers". As you say, the painting was salvaged from a dumpster. Had Selina's dad not had the wherewithal to add it to his collectibles, this wouldn't even be an issue. Chances are the painting would have been crushed by the garbage truck's jaws and deposited at the nearest dump.

Nell Rose (author) from England on August 17, 2020:

I totally agree Robin. I do wish they would do an update, it is very frustrating though. Thanks for reading.

Robin PANKIW on August 17, 2020:

When dealing with courts and lawyers, things advance at glacial speed whilst the costs reach Himalayan heights, In other words, there is no incentive for anyone (other than the claimants) to speed up a conclusion.

Tina on August 16, 2020:

Why are the courts so slow to rule on this case? The Blake's have NOTHING. There's a statue of limitations that has expired for claims to the painting, so it's finder's keepers, loser's weepers. The losers in this situation is that little tool who needs his face bashed in, Simon Murray. What a little pig he is. Now, how on earth did Selina get in hock with this other guy? Is there legal documentation where she posted the painting against her debt to him? He can't just take the painting without showing on paper that she put the painting up as collateral. Furthermore, the painting wasn't legally issued to her to use as collateral. So, I say that he's out of luck, as well. And I fully disagree with the author regarding splitting the proceeds. The Blakes are entitled to nothing. They made the mistake of letting go of the painting somehow. That's their problem. What pigs those people are. Pigs.

Nell Rose (author) from England on July 16, 2020:

Thank you houseofcharm, it certainly is.

houseofcharm on July 16, 2020:

If this were maritime law, she's have salvage rights and claim against the paintings for rescuing them from certain ruin. They did the right thing but the real mystery is how did they come to be there? Even they mentioned that they would have been ruined in a hours or a day if left exposed.

We're they 'garbage picking' in the tip but too proud to admit it and claimed that they were outside the gates? Or did they come across them in a more nefarious scenario?

And you'd mentioned a more equitable split would make sense vs. the decade+ standoff. My view is 65/35 Salina/Murray would have been reasonable and found money to him.

And, the fellow who lent hard money against the painting entered into the loan with eyes wide open so I think, short of any guaranty codicil, will have to live by the decision of the outcome in the courts-like investing in a race horse that goes lame. It's a page turner indeed.

Nell Rose (author) from England on July 15, 2020:

Thanks houseofcharm, I understand now. Does this mean you believe Selina and her family were in the wrong? Remember, they had the painting for 20 years.

Nell Rose (author) from England on July 14, 2020:

Not sure what you mean by Goldfinch? Thanks houseofcharm

houseofcharm on July 14, 2020:

"The fact is that the Painting ended up in the Rubbish dump somehow. " And this is also refutable as it's only through the Salina's word on their find. It's also amazing that this has been in limbon for so many years-Salina's kids are all grown and though college now, ostensibly what the proceeds would have been for. This is a real life 'Goldfinch".

Nell Rose (author) from England on February 03, 2020:

If you read down the page, the answer is there. Thanks for reading.

Psmrlc30 on February 01, 2020:

Was Selina ever paid by Sotheby?

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 07, 2020:

Maybe Peter, I do wish they would do a follow up about this, it is so frustrating.

Peter on January 07, 2020:

I noticed his evidence of provenance by way of the letters referred to a sketch not a painting - could it be that Homer sketched the family and gave that to Lady Blake whilst he completed the painting later - perhaps he then took it to Ireland later

Nell Rose (author) from England on December 28, 2019:

Hi Jan, I can't find anything more which is rather strange. After being bought by a third party it is no longer Selina's problem, but I would imagine it is still being disputed.

I will look into it further, and thanks.

Jan Pearson on December 26, 2019:


Are there any updates on the rightful ownership of Homer's 'Children under a palm tree? I am very curious and in 2019, I can find no updates from 2016.

Thank you very curious:)

Nell Rose (author) from England on May 11, 2019:

Thanks, Ana, I totally agree. I am not sure if its still going on, but at least she was clever enough to sell it on. Thanks for reading.

Ana on May 10, 2019:

A perfect depiction of greed and petty behavior of a sneaky man.

To him this lawsuit represents a personal challenge, since he has nothing to lose. A ground where he can flaunt around with his fancy words and farfetched unproven arguments. Let’s not forget he’s a trained lawyer.

It’s utterly disgusting to hear him ridicule Selena and her family by making the ironic remark that her sole aspirations are to buy swimming pools and cars. He forgot to mention 55” flat screens!

I was very disappointed with the way the show ended. The hosts were indulging him and his significant proof of provenance, I get it, but did not mention that this has NOTHING to do with proof of ownership. Two different concepts I’m afraid!

There are no police record of break in or theft, and no insurance records. Then how do we know that Mr Murray hasn’t sold the painting, taken it to the pound shop or tipped it away?

Nell Rose (author) from England on December 15, 2018:

Exactly. So sad that rich people have such a narrow attitude. Thanks Bishop.

bishop8000 on December 14, 2018:

Regardless of what legal decision will ultimately be made in the case, Simon Murray is a spoiled little weasel who seems to think that inherited money and fancy words hides his low character. To behave as though this painting is his family's property simply because a long dead family member is depicted in the painting and to also assert that it was stolen decades ago and should be returned to him without providing any evidence of a contemporary police report of it being reported missing, is an aristocratic pompousness un-befitting the modern age. What's infinitely worse though, is his condescension to an honest woman that he's never met as though she's a lowly pauper entertaining silly notions of pools and cars to which plebeians like her have no business aspiring, all while simultaneously wanting to sell a supposedly cherished family heirloom to upkeep the family mansion! There should be a new encyclopedia entry under "hypocrisy" with his ugly face and his ugly name. A 50% share in that painting would've been more than he was rightfully entitled to, but after his true colors were shown I sincerely hope he gets nothing, that he's disinherited, and that he dies penniless and alone. And I almost wish that there was an afterlife so that Simon Murray, and people like him, would live with an eternal punishment for what they begat in life.

Nell Rose (author) from England on December 08, 2018:

Hi Lindsay, I tried searching all the sites going back a while but nothing new I am afraid. I will keep my eyes open thought, and will update if there is anything new.

Lindsey on December 07, 2018:

Hello! Do you know of any updates surrounding this story?

Nell Rose (author) from England on May 01, 2018:

Thanks Kiri, I am glad that Selena found a way out, good for her. Thanks for reading.

KIRI FRANCE on May 01, 2018:

that was a great read Nell.. it is sad that there is still no outcome! the court should decided for goodness sake.. as for simon murray, what a pompous ass he was, when i watched that episode all those years ago i could believe people could be so far up themselves as Simon Murray, he's idiot and pathetic stab at Selena purchasing a pool.. twit that he was, i am glad he lost his claim.

Nell Rose (author) from England on March 05, 2018:

Its a weird situation Paul. I did email them a couple of years ago, but refused to tell me anything.Thanks for reading.

Paul on March 04, 2018:

It's strange that this is still going on and Sotherby's have still not released the painting. I would think that by now the Blake's would be barred from claiming ownership either because of the doctrine of laches or the statute of limitations.

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 29, 2018:

Me too! C. Flores! luckily she played him at his own game, lol!

C Flores on January 28, 2018:

I take umbrage with Simon Murray’s comments accusing Selina of wanting the money to buy a swimming pool and cars while he’s the one saying he needs the money for renovations!

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 01, 2017:

Hi Pelleas, no sorry. I just checked, but it seems that it is still stalemate. Thanks for reading.

Pelleas on August 31, 2017:

Fascinating story. Is there any further update?

Nell Rose (author) from England on June 17, 2017:

Thanks FF yes I totally agree with you, but luckily if you read near the bottom it worked out okay.

Fresh-Foodz on June 16, 2017:

Great hub, I watched the TV programme the other night about the painting. I thought it was very unfair that they were allowed to pull the sale of the painting from the auction right at the last minute as another party had claimed ownership. If the painting had not been rescued it would be ruined and there would be no issue. I felt an instant dislike to the great grandson and his attitude to toward the family. I personally think the family that found the painting should be entitled to the total amount especially as there was no evidence of a burglary. Fresh-Foodz - Daily Needs Online

Nell Rose (author) from England on March 08, 2017:

LOL! brilliant Tibor! I just wish she had thought of that! or been advised that, because I am sure those Blakes would have shut up then!

Tibor on March 07, 2017:

In order to prove that the painting was stolen, the Blakes need to pŕovide a Police report. No police report, no proof it was stolen.

What we do not know: No one has any idea how, what, where its been all those previous years. For all we know the original owners could have thrown it all out when cleaning out the house. No one will ever know. Even a magistrate would agree.

However what we do know: Selena has stored it for over 20 years in a clean, dry place therefore she has a right to charge the Blakes for storage fees,( if they can prove it was always theirs in the first place). At storage and management fees rates of an expensive painting like this she can charge 3000 pounds a year for over 20 years. On top of that she can charge a 30 percent finders fee of the valuation of the painting. In addition she can also charge any legal fees, any interest lost from the drawn out legal process lost from the original sale, or devaluation of the artwork due to a withdrawn sale at the auction by the Blakes.

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 17, 2017:

Thanks Pardelope, I believe its out of her hands now, which I am sure she is really pleased! but the new owner still has a long way to go. thanks for reading, nell

Pardelope on January 16, 2017:

The courts of three countries (Ireland, England, and the USA) are involved - each having their own interpretations of "ownership". "Finders keepers" does not apply in all situations or jurisdictions. For example, some art works acquired (?stolen) by the Nazis before and during WWII from Jewish families, have been returned to descendants after expensive court cases. The items had, in some cases, gone through a number of owners who bought them in good faith. Despite their honest purchase or acquisition, they were considered to have received "stolen goods". Each case will have to be treated individually according to the laws of the court involved. I personally think Selena had a good case. It is a shame that an agreement - say 50/50 - could not have been achieved - thereby saving a lot of legal fees and stress. Alternatively, "the family" could have bought it at auction if they were suddenly so desperate.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 24, 2016:

Thanks Pennies Christie. it certainly is an on going interesting story! amazing out of all the series this is the one that captured the worlds imagination. Thanks for reading, nell

Pennies christie on October 23, 2016:

Local knowledge. Selena has been openly discussing it. Locals think she is there now as they are away. Who knows.

Nell Rose (author) from England on July 01, 2016:

Hi penny, where did you get that info? thanks

penny christie on June 30, 2016:

looks like selena and new hubby are off to a new york court very soon

Nell Rose (author) from England on April 23, 2016:

Thanks paul, my thoughts exactly! I think it was disgusting how the whole thing went down, in fact the so called evidence that appeared seemed a bit suspect to me! much to convenient! at least a the end she won out, thank goodness! thanks for reading, nell

Paul on April 23, 2016:

This is a very interesting case from a legal perspective. Sotheby's should not have stopped the auction after completing due diligence and agreeing to the sale, they were contractually bound to sell the painting.

Property that has been abandoned does not belong to anyone and the legal owner who has abandoned it cannot later change their mind when they discover its true worth.

To reclaim the painting the Blakes would have to prove that it was more likely than not that the painting belonged to them and, rather than being sold or abandoned, it had either been lost or was stolen from them.

Nell Rose (author) from England on February 18, 2016:

Yes you are right Bobby, I do believe though that Selina though has got the better deal now, she has sold it on, so thank goodness for that!

BobbyHartman on February 17, 2016:

When Simon Murray, identified the photo, he said the family still had the urn, that they had found and was in the picture. Why can they keep a urn that they found and Selina can not keep a picture her family rescued?

Nell Rose (author) from England on July 22, 2015:

Thanks anon, yes you are probably right there!

anon on July 21, 2015:

As usual, the only winners will be the lawyers.

Nell Rose (author) from England on June 09, 2015:

Hi Linda, yep I did wonder if it was that Clifford Shorer, I looked him up. It sounds like Selina has done pretty well out of this, and good luck to her! Thanks so much for confirming the story, nell

Linda Robertson on June 08, 2015:

I am following this story in New York state. Penny and al: the new owner of the painting is Clifford Schorer, the head of the Board of Directors of the Worcester Museum in Massachusetts, which has sued Sotheby's in the New York State Supreme Court to obtain ownership of the painting. He loaned Selena an undisclosed amount of money for the transfer of ownership. If the courts decide the picture belongs to the Blakes, it is a loss to to Schorer, not Selena. As long as Selena is making her payments, I do not see how Schorer can call in the loan, and if he wins, the Worcester will have obtained a very valuable painting to add to their collection. Certainly, Schorer has deeper pockets than Selena. From what I gather, Selena has moved on and purchased a pub. Presumably, the proceeds will be used to repay the loan. It seems to me that leveraging property you may not own as collateral for a loan is a smart move, and she is being advised by a very good property attorney.

Nell Rose (author) from England on June 03, 2015:

Thanks Penny, Yes you are right, if it all goes wrong then she will be in big trouble, sorry if you were upset at angiii's comment, I appreciate your writing and letting me know, nell

Penny Christie on June 03, 2015:

I do know of her. I am from the village where she lived before she bought her pub... All I am saying is that she has settled.... she has passed her claim of ownership over to the guy who has loaned her the money... I just hope for her sake he doesn't knock on her door for repayment of the loan she has taken on the thing if ownership goes to the blakes.... I think the need of money took over common sense... !

Nell Rose (author) from England on May 30, 2015:

Thanks angiiii, I try to keep it polite on here, I have learned my lesson in the past! lol! not so much being British as well, learning my lesson. To be honest I never really noticed the tone of Penny's remarks I just presumed she knew her. Then I found the info on the internet, so maybe not. But yes I totally agree with you, I never ran a pub but worked in one and yes hard work! As for the painting I think it is disgusting how Selina has been treated, and I hope that one day it works out for her, thanks for reading, nell

angiiiii on May 30, 2015:

Nell Rose

you have been very British and polite about the mean minded comments of Penny Rose.

You can see how out of synch her comments are. The 'well Selina is alright she married and owns a pub'.....try running one, and you will what hard work it is.

I am so glad this lady has found a level of happiness, after the auction house attitude, and the sheet arrogance of the Murray family members.

This woman and her Dad are the legitimate owners, and left it foar too late to cause this chaos. The man is a barrister for god's sake. He is a wealthy individual who is clueless to living in the real world. Her Dad found this dumped, no police report, no insurance claim. It is only when the item was VALUED that an interest and family need to own it was established.

This does not need litigation. It is a simple mediator trick.

Split the proceeds, done....

I cannot stand or bear a mean spirit......

Selina, if you read this, get to mediation, put this xxxxx behind you..

Nell Rose (author) from England on May 29, 2015:

Just came back to say I have been looking it up and realise that this news is out there on the internet so I can add it here, thanks again, nell

Nell Rose (author) from England on May 29, 2015:

Hi Penny, thanks for clarifying it. So the intrigue goes on! lol! it will be interesting to see what happens next! thanks again, and have a great weekend, nell

Penny Christie on May 29, 2015:

Clifford Schorer says he loaned Rendall an unspecified amount of money in 2012, and she backed the loan with the painting - which is estimated to be worth as much as $250,000.

Nell Rose (author) from England on May 28, 2015:

Than;ks Penny, Phew! sounds like she is 'spitting in the wind' as my mum would say! lol! as you say, if it does end up with the Blakes she will be in big trouble! Unless there is something else we don't know, but anyway, thanks so much for the update, I wish the stalemate would end, it must be driving her and the family nuts!

Penny Christie on May 28, 2015:

Greed comes to mind!

Penny Christie on May 28, 2015:

Nothing really to add, Selena has got a loan on the painting with a third party who now has claim on the painting, she owes this guy a considerable sum. So, if the painting does end up with the Blakes, she's got a big debt around her neck. Silly girl.

Nell Rose (author) from England on May 15, 2015:

Hi brake, yes it was on tv, it made a real storm over here. We all felt sorry for her, but now it seems things have turned out okay, lol! thanks for reading, nell

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 15, 2015:

Hi Nell You certainly wrote on a popular topic and received lots of responses. What a mystery. I gather it was on TV or in the paper, and you took the story and made it into a great hub. I didn't read the entire list of comments, but got the gist of what has happened. Thanks for sharing a story that you made easy to understand. Blessings, Audrey

Nell Rose (author) from England on May 15, 2015:

Aha Penny, do tell! LOL! we want details! lol! thanks, that sounds interesting! if you don't want to write details here, just email me, go to my profile page, down the right hand side till you get to Fan Male, click on there and then send me an email okay? Thanks!

Penny Christie on May 15, 2015:

She doesn't need the money, got a pub with new husband, got a loan from a third party on the painting....

Nell Rose (author) from England on February 16, 2015:

Hi Heath, yes I totally agree with you! I think its gone on far too long now, the sad thing is if she hadn't taken it onto the TV programme in the first place then nobody would have known about the other claimants, and it would have been over and done with now. seems being truthful doesn't get you anywhere these days! thanks for reading, nell

Heath venn on February 16, 2015:

I watched this last night and was shocked, to then today do some research and discover a 3rd party has made a claim.... Could it have gotten any worse.

I think we should start a "raise the funds" Paige for selina, get her her Original 30k for her kids and she cN do away with all this crap and have a wonderful life!!

Nell Rose (author) from England on December 01, 2014:

Thanks so much for reading angiiiii, and yes I totally agree with you, what is wrong with these people? the haves have more, the poor have les and nobody cares! this is just greed, and yes I agree, a number 1 sin, nell

angiiiiii on December 01, 2014:

I used to think vanity was my favourite sin, now I think it has changed to greed.

Where have we gone wrong in the world, where politicians become fat cats who are self serving, and show no example for the poor or wealthy on the planet.

Embrace the fact that moderation, humility and kindness are virtues and not weaknesses.

If I were written of, as these Murray's are written of, I would be so very ashamed.

Those who have not, have not, but those who have want more....

Greed, my no `1 favourite sin.....

Nell Rose (author) from England on November 30, 2014:

Hi Funda, I totally agree with you, I keep looking for news on this but nothing seems to have happened, and its quite a long time now, its disgusting how they have been treated, thanks so much for reading, nell

Funda on November 30, 2014:

I watched this today. I find Murray's comments on how Selina would spend the money on a swimming pool etc. outrageous. If they could be grateful for the find and offer her half the money, I think she would accept it. Family obviously think that they could treat her the way they like since they have the money and status. I hope Selina would win the case and get all the money. Family does not deserve it or the painting itself. If they were worthy of it, they would not discard the painting as rubbish.

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 26, 2014:

Hi Gillianisme, yes I will update this as soon as I hear anything, thanks so much for reading, and I totally agree with you!

Gillianisme on October 26, 2014:

I watched this just today ... What a story ! What a roller coaster ride for Selina ! and what a proverbial ass is the great grandson and the rest of the Blake family for making this claim .

I have no doubt that at one time the painting had belonged to the Blakes but come on... without the Dad finding these paintings and saving them there would be nothing for the Blakes to claim and nothing is what they should receive. Please keep me updated I cannot wait to see the look on the grandsons face when common sense prevails .

Nell Rose (author) from England on October 23, 2014:

Hi Todd, I totally agree with everything you say, its just plain stupid, and as for the remark about swimming pools etc I was so mad when I heard him say it! you are quite right, everything should be sorted out by now, its just ridiculous! thanks for reading, nell

Todd in SF on October 22, 2014:

The whole thing is ridiculous. The fact is, Simon Murray and his family never reported any burglary or burglaries of any kind. Suddenly, after nearly 30 years, when the Murray family realized the existence of the painting -- and that it is a valuable painting by a renowned artist -- they declare that the painting was stolen. Like hell it was! It gets worse. Simon Murray, a lawyer, had the gall to malign the people who found it on the rubbish heap and rescued it, by saying he knew they were hoping to use the money for swimming pools and motor cars. Murray is overprivileged and arrogant, too rich for his own good, and, clearly, he has no understanding of people who actually have to work for a living to support themselves to any degree of modest comfort. I think there must be a statute of limitations of some sort in this case -- you shouldn't be able to suddenly report a theft 25 years after the fact and establish ownership of an object as stolen goods that are rightfully yours. After a statutorily defined period of time, it's too late to shout "Theft, theft!" The fact is, this watercolor, unframed, was tucked away in the pages of a scrapbook and it's more than likely the family tossed it out with no idea anything valuable was in it, which is their problem. I can't believe it's taking this long for the courts to declare who the rightful owner actually is. At this point, it shouldn't be the people who tossed the scrapbook out along with the painting it contained and are now claiming it was stolen -- that claim is obvious horsehockey, based on the greed of someone who is already wealthy. After so many years, finders keepers ought to be the verdict.

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 13, 2014:

Thanks Angiiii, nell

angiiiii on September 13, 2014:

I would seek out a lawyer pro bono or on fixed fee, and challenge Sotheby's... for wrongful possession.

How can people be this mean?

It is always, but always, those who have it who want more.

We have wealthy relatives who you would not believe would have done the most appalling things to a 90 year old. Lies, falsehoods, theft..... and Mum was 90, all to make her change her will. She had cancer....

Where do all the good people go?

I know where these lot are going. Just a question of time.....


Selina, if you read these messages, take the 97% vote results to your lawyer, and sue the Blakes whe you successfully sue Sotheby's.

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 12, 2014:

I never realised that Genee, Wow! yes the ownership is a big thing, if they got it wrong they could be sued, so they have to be really careful.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on September 12, 2014:

For the record, Sotheby's has a long-standing policy of yanking items from auctions at the last minute if there's the slightest whiff of dispute of ownership. "Children" is only one of several paintings being held at Sotheby's until the rightful owner is determined.

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 12, 2014:

Hi Mary, yes it was wasn't it? it seems they went into action the second they thought they would lose money! Selina is the real owner, simple as that, as for the new so called owner coming forward, Selina should be able to sell the painting and then pay him off, thanks for reading, nell

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 12, 2014:

Hi Dolores, no it was never reported, in fact it was 20 years before all this happened! that's the contention I think, yes those lawyers must be raking in the money by now, thanks so much for reading, nell

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 12, 2014:

Hi Genee, Wow I never knew that! no wonder its still stuck at Sotheby's! I don't think it will ever be sorted out to be honest, its one of those things that could go on for years! thanks for the update!

Mary Craig from New York on September 12, 2014:

I'm so glad you brought this one back Nell. You always find the most interesting subjects to write about. It really looks very fishy for the Blakes,l I mean how coincidental they just realized it had been stolen! There's no way it should be given to them. Selina's dad found it so that should be the end of it.

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on September 12, 2014:

Was the painting reported as stolen at the time it supposedly went missing? If there was no report can the family of the Blake's still make a claim? Picking up something at the dump, I certainly would not report it to the police. I love these stories of art thefts and the ensuing legal fights. But it does seem that the financial gain goes to the lawyers. Great story.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on September 11, 2014:

Nell, the tangled web just gets more tangled! Someone else has claimed ownership of "Children".

In November 2013, a Massachusetts man named Clifford Schorer says he loaned Selena Rendell an unspecified amount and she used the painting as collateral. As she has not repaid the loan, his lawsuit claims he's the rightful owner. (see:

The "good" news is the painting is still at Sotheby's (or was as of Nov 2013) and will remain there until courts determine the true owner.

I got interested again after reading about Winslow Homer in a coffee table book about a San Antonio TX couple's collection of 26 Impressionist paintings they'd loaned to the Smithsonian's art gallery in Washington, D.C. It said that late in life, Homer had become a recluse in Maine, so I was curious as to how and where he would've met up with the Blakes to do "Children" in the first place.

Sir Henry Arthur Blake had been the Governor of the Bahamas from 1884 to 1887. Homer visited the Bahamas in the winters of 1884 and 1885.

That said, I'm still not convinced Homer actually did the painting. The sketch for it, perhaps, as Edith Blake's diary attests. But Edith was a well-known, accomplished watercolorist who did very detailed renderings of the flora and fauna of the Bahamas, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that Homer did do the sketch, but Edith Blake completed it. Like a paint-by-number, as it were, which would explain why the family always thought it was one of her own watercolors.

Just sayin...

Nell Rose (author) from England on February 13, 2014:

Hi Mark, sorry its taken me a while to answer, just came on here. First of all yes I totally understand what you mean about Simon Murray's so called evidence, of course it can't possibly prove where the painting went, how, or why. Its easy to say well here's the evidence, but of course paintings get sold or lost over time, and this of course was 20 years later, not straight away. surely he would have noticed something missing over 20 years for goodness sake!

As for your painting, that must be so frustrating. I have just watched the latest Fake or Fortune series and I totally understand what you mean about the authenticity. It only takes one to mess up the whole reality of the situation. So frustrating and annoying. Good luck with it, as you can see by the Series, it can eventually be done but it does take time, good luck and thanks for reading. Nell

Mark F. on February 13, 2014:

Sigh. I was desperately short of sleep when I keyed in the above. I hope that my meaning is clear. Even if the diary is not a forgery, it only proves that Lady Blake received a "sketch", which might only be a preliminary version of the watercolor, and not the painting at issue, and the diary does not prove that the painting, if that is what it was, was not given away, bartered, sold or discarded. Unfortunately, I have a bit of experience in trying to get Sotheby's to sell a piece. In my case, five of the six experts on their assessment panel were certain that my painting was a genuine Jane Peterson, and the sixth was adamant that, while an original artwork, my painting was by some unknown other artist who signed as J. Peterson. Since they have a standard of not marketing anything without complete agreement on authenticity by their panels, I was out of luck.

Mark F. on February 13, 2014:

IF (and for only two letters, that's a very big word) Simon Murray's very convenient photocopies of his great-great-granny's diary mention that Winslow Homer promised to present her with a "sketch" of her three children in their costumes from the ball. Some artists work on a sketch or two, and then go on to their final painting, much as a writer will work on a draft. It is quite possible that what was presented to the governor's wife was a preliminary sketch, from which Homer painted his work to sell back in the United States. And the family barrister is just using that story as leverage in what amounts to an extortion of money from the rightful owner of the painting.

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 31, 2014:

Hi Garp, yes that's so true, I did try getting in touch with Sotheby's but to no avail, they wouldn't give me any info, it seems its a stand off still! With the new series just started I hope we get to see something about this, maybe the last in the series as an update, fingers crossed! Thanks for reading, nell

Garp on January 31, 2014:

Murray is simply indulging in legal thuggery. He knows that he doesn't have enough to get the painting but he has the power to put the painting in limbo. He doesn't need to prove the painting is rightfully his, he just needs to cast doubt over the ownership so that the painting can't be sold. Now he tells Selena Varney, give me 70-75% of any money raised and I'll allow the sale to go ahead.

It's no coincidence that he is offering Varney 25-30% of a painting est. to be worth 100,000 when he would know that she originally expected to make 30,000 on the sale (the figure quoted on the Antiques Roadshow).

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 18, 2014:

Hi Trogging, that's so true! the insurance would definitely have proved it so yes they should have records. they binned it, simple as that, and they just won't give up, greedy! thanks for reading, nell

Trogging on January 18, 2014:

Seems to me that Simon Murray's family should have some insurance records of the painting from before the painting was found on the dump. No family of this calibre would not have insured their valuable artworks, and most keep their records for posterity and history. In fact most value their artwork yearly. If the family don't have the records then the insurers might have these records.

If there is no insurance records, and it was in the family's possession, then the family did not think it was valuable at the time, and probably did bin it. More fools them.

Nell Rose (author) from England on December 29, 2013:

Hi JamaGenee, great to see you! And no its still not been resolved. I even wrote to Sotheby's! lol! They were not very helpful! Its just ridiculous now, surely they can sort something out? Thanks for coming back, hope you are well?

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on December 29, 2013:

Hey, Nell! Just stopped by to see if this mess has been resolved yet. It hasn't. Drats! It's been awhile, but I still think Sotheby's KNOWS its jewels are in a wringer because they didn't do the all important due diligence and verify the provenance of the painting BEFORE agreeing to include it in an auction.

That said, I DO like angiiiii's "solution"...sort of. Having just read "The Goldfinch"...don't waste your $$$ OR your time, btw...I was reminded that when works of art are taken out of circulation, whether by actually being destroyed (as the Goldfinch was thought to be for several years), or hidden away in a Paris apartment for decades, or by ownership disputes such what's happening to "Children", we ALL lose by being denied the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of an artist's labor.

Other than money, what can Simon and his obviously-greedy mother hope to gain by continuing the legal battle for ownership? Certainly not the admiration of the art world and fans of great art.

Lisbeth - Denmark on December 16, 2013:

My pleasure :)

Nell Rose (author) from England on December 16, 2013:

Thanks Lisbeth, nell

Lisbeth - Denmark on December 16, 2013:

Couldn't have said it better, Angiiii! You are so right!

Nell Rose (author) from England on December 15, 2013:

Thanks angiiiii, I totally agree with you, thanks for reading, nell

angiiiii on December 15, 2013:

This painting was so important they did not know it was missing. Ignored Sotheby's advice it would be sold.

Never complained it was missing on the art register.

Offered only 25 then 30% to the then owner.

Loved it so much they were happy at first to sell it.

Simon Murray, (Lawyer and Barrister, son of Shirley Rountree), clearly not short of a bob or 2, claim, quote, 'I am sure the money has all been spent on swimming pools and cars'....well, actually as a single Mum of 4 children, likely paying off what she now owns, idiot comment.

It shows the mentality of the rich crushing the poor.

GREED. Here is how this is easily resolved, the wisdom of Soloman.


Greed..,.sickening, my favourite sin....

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