A personal view on the ‘Picasso in the attic’ hoax from the reporter who broke the story
A month ago Dominic Currie - a family friend of four decades standing - rapped on my mother’s door desperately trying to find me.
Readers wanted to believe good things can happen to ordinary people - and he let them down, as did I by trusting him
I was on holiday and my phone had no signal, but we spoke two days later and arranged to meet up within hours because he had something to tell me urgently.
Sitting in the local pub, he slid a prepared story across the table, leaving me to read it while he went to the bar.
The story - as we all know - was dynamite. He returned, shell-shocked, and said: “I haven’t slept for three nights. How do I deal with something as big as this? You were the only person I could come to.”
The fact is I trusted Dominic Currie - he was a friend of my late father and babysat my late brother and me when we were small children.
In recent years, I supported his career as an artist; writing articles about his exhibitions and, as a friend, buying a couple of his paintings.
Our family also knew some of his background; that he had been brought up by his grandparents and had never mentioned his father.
So, when he showed me the revelatory suitcase and its (eBay) contents, I fell for his ruse and unwittingly afforded him the credibility to push his ‘project’ forward.
That the story gained so much attention tells us people wanted to believe a working-class boy had not only found a possible fortune but found his father.
Readers wanted to believe good things can happen to ordinary people - and he let them down, as did I by trusting him.
It’s also incredibly disappointing that, despite having numerous opportunities to reveal the truth, he chose not to - even at the point of being rumbled.
People have asked me what he was trying to achieve.
I think he wanted to whip up such a storm of publicity around the painting, it would become a celebrated fake. And, of course, gain exposure for himself.
The fact that he chose to resurrect the memory of his late mother as part of his deception show us the sort of man we are dealing with.
The fact too that he would abuse a friend’s trust and risk their reputation for his own ends.
He sent me a text saying “I hope you don’t feel exploited. I only wanted to share my ‘experiment’ with you. I just hope we can remain friends.”
A man can be many things, but don’t be a liar. There’s no going back.