Antiques Roadshow Expert Mistakenly Values High School Art Project At $50K

Grotesque Face Jug

Grotesque Face Jug

It was described by the appraiser as a "grotesque face jug". How much do you think it is worth? The same appraiser, Antiques Roadshow's Stephen L Fletcher, said he thought it might be anywhere up to US$50 thousand. The owner, Alvin Barr from South Carolina, was visibly shocked. He paid $300!

The Jug Speaks

The Jug Speaks

“It speaks to me,” he said. “It was saying: ‘I’m very unusual.’” The appraiser agreed and said that, in his professional opinion, he thought the jug was probably made in the late 19th Century and likened it to one of the greats. “You even see a little bit of, like, Pablo Picasso going on here.”

OMG!

OMG!

So, understandably, Barr was over the proverbial moon at the news, and was pleasantly shocked to hear that it was worth many times what he had paid for it. The only problem was, as we learned after the show had aired, the appraiser was a little off the mark....

The Artist

The Artist

This is the artist, then high schooler Betsy Soule of Oregon, who made it for her ceramics class. I mean, she is quite good and all, but it was made in 1973, about 100 years after the appraiser estimated.

Betsy's Collection

Betsy's Collection

As you can see, Betsy made a few similar things, and does have some real talent, but perhaps the price tag came down a bit when a friend told Betsy what she had seen on TV, and Betsy got in touch to say that she had made it in high school!

“This example, with its six grotesque faces, was modeled or sculpted with considerable imagination, virtuosity and technical competence," Fletcher said in response to the news. The piece's value was updated on the CBS website.

“Obviously, I was mistaken as to its age by 60 to 80 years. 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.”