But Teri Horton, a retired truck driver living in a Californian trailer park, became convinced that her thrift shop purchase might just be the genuine article after an art school teacher suggested it could well be by the famous artist and worth millions.
Her long fight for authentication was the inspiration behind American playwright Stephen Sachs’ new play, a short two-hander which pits Kathleen Turner’s gruffly determined bartender Maude (who’d knocked down the price for the “ugly” work from $5 to $3) against Lionel, an English consulting expert and “fake buster” from New York who arrives with (almost) impeccable credentials and a lifetime’s experience behind him.
Maude has done her homework, though, and isn’t going to give in easily, and there’s some amusing interplay between this boozy, smoking, swearing ex-bartender and Ian McDiarmid’s prissy, snobbish Lionel who is convinced from the get-go that the splatters of paint on the (unseen by us) canvas weren’t put there by Pollock.
It makes for a slight but entertaining 75 minutes which raises questions about art, culture and class. And although the play hardly qualifies as a masterpiece, the first rate performances (and Tom Piper’s cluttered set, crammed with scavenged bric-a-brac) are the real deal.
When: Until August 30
Where: Duchess Theatre, Catherine Street, WC2B 5LA
Tickets cost £25 – £52.50. To book, click here