East Yorkshire couple buy £34 painting at flea market - only to discover it's worth £10K

Holly Hammond (L) & Coralie Thomson, Duggleby Stephenson art specialist (R), with the painting by Patrick Heron (1920-1999).
-Credit: (Image: Duggleby Stephenson / SWNS)


A savvy shopper struck gold at a French flea market when she bagged a blurry painting for just £34, only to discover it's actually worth a staggering £10,000.

Kate Pottage, 49, along with her husband Mark, 48, couldn't believe their luck after picking up the piece of art at La Grande Rederie d'Amiens, Europe's biggest flea market.

The East Yorkshire couple had made the six-hour journey from Cherry Burton to France, arriving at the stroke of midnight before the market opened on April 21.

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It was there that Kate's eye was caught by a painting discarded on the pavement next to a stall. Initially priced at €50 (£42), Kate haggled the price down to €40 (£34).

To their astonishment, upon returning home, they found out that the painting was an original by renowned 20th-century British abstract artist Patrick Heron.

Set to be auctioned off at Duggleby Stephenson of York this Friday, the artwork could command a price well above its £10,000 valuation.

Reflecting on the find, Kate remarked: "We weren't actually looking for a painting. But there was something about this picture. Even by the light of my torch the thing was really striking."

"I saw that it was signed P. Heron but quite honestly the name meant nothing at that moment."

Patrick Heron, who passed away in 1999 at the age of 79, is celebrated as one of Britain's most significant post-war artists, with his works often fetching tens of thousands at auctions, sometimes even surpassing £1 million.

Art expert Coralie Thomson expressed her amazement at the discovery, calling it "It is a wonderful, not to say absolutely astonishing, find. Leeds-born Heron was an incredibly influential figure, a painter, writer and critic who played a leading role in raising British interest in post-war abstract art."

"His early influences were Braque and Matisse but after seeing an exhibition of American abstract impressionists in London in 1956 Heron abandoned figurative painting and underwent a conversion to pure abstraction."

"The result was a spectacularly successful career that saw his work exhibited around the world. Kate's flea market find is dated 1959, so relatively soon after Heron's conversion to abstraction."

"The painting is an atmospheric abstract composition of muted tones, a painting that fits right into the work that he was doing at that period. t is a fascinating picture by a great artist whose work is to be found in major collections in this country and around the world and of course it comes with a backstory that would surely be almost impossible to beat."

"He won many awards and honours including a CBE in Harold Wilson's 1976 resignation honours list (the infamous Lavender List) but he later rejected the offer of a knighthood and also declined an invitation to become a member of the Royal Academy."