'Antiques Roadshow' erroneously appraises high school art project at $50,000
Kids, hold on to your macaroni art, because the Roadshow isn't always right.
Years ago, Alvin Barr purchased a mysterious clay jug for $300 at a Eugene, Oregon estate sale. Unsure about the piece's origins, he brought it to appraiser Stephen L. Fletcher when PBS's Antiques Roadshow came to Spokane, Washington.
Fletcher was stunned. "This, in its own way, is really over-the-top," he told Barr, also likening the many-faced sculpture to a work by Picasso. He estimated the piece was made in the late 19th or early 20th century, and valued it at around $50,000.
"What?" shouted Barr, understandably.
Unfortunately for both Barr and Fletcher, these estimates were a little off the mark. The jug was actually made in the early 1970s — not by a professional potter, but by horse trainer Betsy Soule in her high school ceramics class.
When the Roadshow episode aired in January, Soule got a call from a friend: "You've got to get on the internet and look up Antiques Roadshow. That weird pot you made is on there."
Eventually, Antiques Roadshow and Soule cleared up the mistake. Fletcher has since posted a correction to his appraisal on the PBS website. "Obviously, I was mistaken as to its age by 60 to 80 years," he wrote. "I feel the value at auction, based on its quality and artistic merit, is in the $3,000-$5,000 range."
"Still not bad for a high-schooler in Oregon," he added.