Christies has announced that Dick Van Dyke, who had been expected to fetch up to £500,000 at auction today, has failed to meet his reserve. The Old Master of Disguise was found lodged in a chimney by an Essex builder in 1997 and was identified as the genuine article on the Antiques Roadshow later that year.
With his cheerful, cockney ways and laverly singing voice Mr van Dyke was instantly recognised by Fiona Bruce, who knows about these things, who dared to believe she might just have discovered the genuine fake-cockney article himself.
Ms Bruce contacted the UK’s most renowned van Dyke experts who put the old relic through several tests, including chimney sweeping, building a amphibious car capable of flight and dancing with a troupe of poorly drawn penguins.
Following a lengthy restoration process, Dick was verified as authentic by the world’s leading authority on 1960s Disneyabilia.
A spokesman for Christies said that there was disappointment in the room during the auction, but also remarked that collectors had been sceptical, particularly after the David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns, offered at auction last year, turned out to be poor quality Far East copies.