As a renowned art dealer Philip Mould has been credited with some of the most profound painting discoveries of our time.
But the TV presenter has admitted a professional faux pas that would leave most people with their head in their hands.
Back in 2000 Mr Mould sold an oil painting to a client for the modest sum of £35,000.
But he has recently discovered that the piece was created by the best-known icon of British landscape history – and is actually worth £2million.
Philip Mould and Fiona Bruce confirmed the painting’s authenticy on BBC One’s Fake or Fortune, pictured. The painting is an alternative view of Constable’s iconic work The Hay Wain
The startling discovery is revealed in the new series of BBC One’s Fake or Fortune, hailed as an ‘art detective’ show.
It emerges that Mr Mould first chanced upon the painting while browsing items for sale at a major London auction house in the mid-1990s.
As soon as it caught his eye he was convinced it was an original by prominent landscape artist John Constable.
He bought the painting – a sketch depicting an alternative view of Constable’s iconic work The Hay Wain – for £10,000 and set out on a quest to have the work authenticated.
But despite his best efforts the dealer failed not once, but twice, to convince the experts and he was grudgingly obliged to sell it on for £35,000.
Scientific analysis such as ultraviolet and infrared photography revealed the painting was in keeping with Constable’s techniques
Now, 20 years later, he has been able to re-examine the painting alongside Fake or Fortune co-presenter Fiona Bruce and the painting’s current owner, Henry Reed.
Advances in digital technology enabled the team to track down long-buried sales records to build a provenance trail, and scientific analysis such as ultraviolet and infrared photography revealed the painting was in keeping with Constable’s techniques.
Mr Mould insists he is ‘relieved’ that his instinct had been proved right and he was ‘thrilled’ for its new owner
The evidence was presented to two of the world’s top Constable experts and, finally, they were able to prove Mr Mould’s original hunch.
The painting has been verified as an original and is now worth £2million – 57 times the price it was sold four 17 years ago.
Despite the discovery, Mr Mould insists he is ‘relieved’ that his instinct had been proved right.
He said: ‘I’m really happy to know that I was not deluded.
‘I’m thrilled for Henry, its owner. And also for Constable himself who must been a little peeved up there that his hand been demoted to an imitator or, more insulting still, a faker.’
Co-presenter Fiona Bruce added: ‘I’m thrilled with the outcome of our investigation. It is incredibly rare to be able to take a painting all the way back through time to the brush of the artist himself.’