Original Andy Warhol Worth £1.3m Found At Jumble Sale

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Rudy Vallee, by Andy Warhol
Rudy Vallee, by Andy Warhol

An art collector has hit the jackpot after a drawing he picked up at a jumble sale turned out to be an Andy Warhol original - worth £1.3million.

The signed sketch of a popular singer was hidden among several works bought for by Andy Fields, 48, during a trip to Las Vegas.

It is believed to have been drawn when the artist was just ten or 11 years old - and has now been valued at $2.1million.

Experts have hailed it as the earliest known example of his Pop Art and revealed it could sell for up to ten times its current valuation.

Businessman Andy said: "As a piece of art I actually think it's rubbish - but it's an incredibly important work.

"I've done all I can to get it authenticated and I'm certain it's genuine from all the research I've done.

"It redefines the work of one of the most famous artists of the last 100 years.

"It moves the birth of Pop Art back two decades - it shows Warhol was already doing that sort of stuff at a much younger age.

"I'm not interested in the financial gain for now and I'm not going to keep it in a vault in England.

"I want it to go on show in a gallery because great art should be shared and I think it's only right that the millions of Warhol enthusiasts have the right to see it."

Father-of-one Andy, from Tiverton, Devon, stumbled across the sketch in April 2010 when he went to a garage sale in a rundown district of Las Vegas where he was visiting friends.

The seller, a drug abuser, said his aunt Edith Smith had looked after Warhol as a child in the artist's native Pittsburgh in the 1930s.

Andy paid him $5 for seven pencil portraits in cheap plastic frames.

A few days later he was stunned when he took off the frames - and another drawing dropped out of the back of one of actor William 'Hopalong Cassidy' Boyd.

It was a pencil sketch on folded paper of a man's face over a 7" x 5" grid of yellow, orange and green squares that had been carefully measured and coloured.

The edges of the paper were torn and frayed - but in the bottom right hand corner in coloured pencil was the signature Andy Warhol.

The figure in the drawing was identified as Rudy Vallee, a popular US singer and actor of the 1930s and a favourite of the young artist.

Andy said: "I just looked at it and thought 'Oh My God'. That guy was telling the truth.

"I knew I had to get hold of him to find out everything he knew about it."

But when Andy returned to the house it was empty and the occupant had disappeared.

The enthusiast spent weeks trying to find him - even staking out local casinos - but he had vanished.

Andy also discovered that the other sketches he had paid $5 dollars for were also of value - probably together worth more than $100,000 (£62,000).

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The pictures were drawn by Gertrude Stein, a famous US author, poet and art collector - who had not been previously known for her own art work.

Andy believes the Warhol drawing was produced at around the same time in the late 1930s, when he would have been aged 10 or 11.

He set about contacting numerous other authorities who have told him they believe the work is authentic.

They include American Brett Maly, who has been used by Las Vegas billionaire Steve Wynn to value masterpieces from Picasso, da Vinci and Salvador Dali.

Brett last month sent Andy a report saying the drawing was worth $2.1million - but has also told him it could fetch 10 times that.

He said the drawing shows early signs of the style that would make Warhol famous - including the mouth, which appears to have been coloured with dark red lipstick.

The drawing was shown to the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board in New York - which refused to confirm it was genuine until more was known about it.

Andy then tracked down one of Warhol's former art college friends, Leonard Kessley, who told him he thought it was an original.

Dr Audrey Giles, one of Britain's leading experts on signatures, has said she thinks the one on the drawing is Warhol's - probably added a few years later.

Armed with his evidence, Andy was due to return the painting to the Warhol Art Authentication Board in New York last month for their final verdict.

But the organisation disbanded in December amid a series of costly lawsuits and allegations of corruption.

Andy now wants to put the work on display for the public to view.

He said: "I've spent two years trying to prove this is Warhol's work and think I've done all I can to prove it - there is simply no-where else to take it.

"The time has come to put it on display and let people see it and make up their own minds.

"I've been told it could be worth $21 million - but it's impossible to put an accurate figure on it because there's nothing to compare it to.

"Nothing else like this has ever come up before.

"I'm not actually looking to sell it at this stage - but it will be something for my daughter's future."

The highest-ever price paid for a Warhol painting was $100 million (dollars) in 2009 for a 1963 canvas titled Eight Elvises.