Friday 13th July 2018 - Della Bentham
The Elgar Foundation, who claim to be the rightful owners of this manuscript are calling for the piece to be returned to them, or threaten legal action.
*Image from the BBC
We recently shared a news article on our Facebook page about an item that featured on last weeks' Antiques Roadshow. The piece in question was an original Elgar manuscript, which contained the revisions & drafts. It was valued by the expert at between £80,000 & £100,000.
The piece was filmed in Cardiff last year but aired on Sunday the 8th of July. The manuscript containing the original drafts and revisions of Elgar’s famous Enigma Variations was brought in by guest Jude Hooke. Ms Hooke seemed shocked by the valuation, saying she thought Elgar's autograph may be worth something. It is believed she contacted auctioneer Christie's after finding out the value of the piece to offer it up for sale.
All is not how it seems, however, according to an article in The Times the day after the program aired, the manuscript doesn't belong to Ms Hooke, and was in fact gifted to the Elgar Birthplace Museum by the composer’s daughter, Carice. The manuscript reportedly went missing from the museum which was based in Worcester at the time, back in 1994, and its whereabouts had been unknown ever since, that is until Sunday night.
It would appear that Ms Hooke’s late husband worked at the same firm of solicitors as a former vice-chairman of the Elgar Foundation, Sam Driver White, who passed away last year. Ms Hooke told the Antiques Roadshow that the manuscript had belonged to her late husband, who was a music scholar and a lay clerk at Worcester Cathedral, and that he “had done quite a bit of work on early Elgar pieces”.
David Mellor, the chairman of the Elgar Foundation told the Times they will threaten legal action if the manuscript is not returned.
"I don't know how this unique manuscript left the possession of the Elgar Foundation or got into this lady's hands," he told The Times. "But one thing is certain. She has no proprietary right to it and we have already warned Christie's that this property cannot be sold by them because the person who is offering it is not the legitimate owner. We hope she will admit this without the need for legal action but if she doesn't there will, of course, be legal action."
Christie's have confirmed that the manuscript is not currently due to be offered in any upcoming sales. A spokesperson for The British Library, who have been looking after the composer’s archive for the Elgar Foundation, said they are “in touch with the person who discovered the score, with a view to restoring it to its place in the research archive of music manuscripts and correspondence, which is now at the British Library.”