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The High Court earlier heard that the picture was bought in 1976 for £23,350 but was recently valued by Agnew’s at up to £1m. However, Sir Simon’s counsel said that in January 2000, he discovered that the painting was in fact a copy of a Constable engraving in the V&A.

The case was settled on terms mutually agreeable to both parties shortly before it was due to be heard in court. While the detailed terms of the settlement are covered by a confidentiality agreement, Sir Simon Day made it clear that he withdrew unconditionally the allegations made in the action that Agnew’s, and in particular the former chairman, the late Evelyn Joll, acted in any way improperly in connection with their dealings with him over the painting.