An antiques collector who thought he paid £230 for a fake Picasso at a car boot sale has been told it could be an original worth £750,000.
Philip Stapleton, from Crawley, West Sussex, spotted the Seated Bather painting on the ground and was drawn in by the Art Deco 1930s frame, assuming the piece was a good fake.
Mr Stapleton, 52, bought it for £230 but later had buyer's remorse, fearing he had been ripped off. It sat on his desk for six months and he eventually took it to an auction house.
Within a week Rosie May, of Brighton and Hove Auctions, spotted four tell-tale hallmarks that could indicate the piece is a genuine study painting by Pablo Picasso.
Philip Stapleton, from Crawley, West Sussex, assumed the piece was a good fake. Rosie May, of Brighton and Hove Auctions, spotted four tell tale hallmarks that could indicate the piece is a genuine study painting by Pablo Picasso
Mr Stapleton said: 'I still can't really believe what has happened. I'm like a rabbit caught in the headlights. It's a very strange feeling. I feel kind of numb.'
The painting is set to go under the hammer at the Brighton and Hove Auctions on June 7.
Auctioneer Rosie May said: 'Philip's a regular customer who comes in with bits and pieces for us to sell and he also buys at the auction.
'He came in one day and said this might be of interest to you.
'First of all we dismissed as someone had copied a Picasso and put it in a frame.
'The signature did not sit well with me, the Seated Bather is 1930s and this was an early signature.
'But it caught our attention and we looked on the back and in very faint writing it said the words ''Roland Penrose Estate.''
The painting is set to go under the hammer at the Brighton and Hove Auctions on June 7
'Roland Penrose lived about 20 minutes from our auction house in Chiddingly and he was a very good friend of Picasso.
'And its well documented he spent time at Roland Penrose's house.
'They were very good friends, Roland Penrose organised exhibitions of Picasso's work which was intriguing.'
Ms May found more reasons to support her theory, adding: 'Underneath it it said ''P Picasso Collections'' spelled wrong with one ''l'' - which is obviously a foreign spelling of it.
'Just underneath as far as I can make out it says the name of a nephew of Picasso who had his own collection of Picasso.
'Then it was getting really interesting.
'We took the back off and on the back of the actual painting in very faint pencil you can clearly see the Picasso signature.
'It's a later signature now and a message in pencil and you can make out the word ''To Roland'' and a date.
Ms May pointed out four tell-tale signs that could indicate the piece is genuine - including faint writing on the back. 'We took the back off and on the back of the actual painting in very faint pencil you can clearly see the Picasso signature,' she said