King’s Lynn mum says all she sees are victims when she looks at her Rolf Harris painting

Cathy Sims with her Rolf Harris painting, after it was valued at £50,000. Picture: Ian Burt

Cathy Sims with her Rolf Harris painting, after it was valued at £50,000. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

Every time Cathy Sims looks at her sentimental Rolf Harris painting she now sees a victim.

Ms Sims of Wootton Road, King's Lynn, was horrified when she discovered that the work of art which has been in her family since childhood, was painted by a criminal.

Harris, who has now been sentenced to five years and nine months in prison, even sent her an email around five years ago explaining the portrait.

Ms Sims, 45, has been left horrified and confused about what to do with the portrait.

She said: 'My dad brought it for me from a charity auction for £50 in Sutton Bridge when I was around six or seven. I chose it because as a child back then, I thought the girl in the portrait looked like me.

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'We knew it was a Rolf Harris portrait but we never discussed it or even thought about it. It was just hung in a play room where I used to listen to my records and practice ballet.'

Ms Sims lost her father in 2005 and wanted to find out more about the her beloved painting. So she emailed Harris through his website and to her delight he replied telling her it was a portrait of singer Bonnie Tyler.

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'I couldn't believe it,' she said. 'I used to sing Total Eclipse of the Heart to that painting when I had my heart broken as a teen.'

Ms Sims took her painting to the Antiques Roadshow in 2011 and was told it could be worth up to £50,000. She decided she could not afford to insure the painting and tried twice to sell it at auction.

On the first occasion at Downham the highest bid was £26,000 but the reserve price was £30,000. Later, in Louth, Lincs, it failed to make the reserve price of £25,000.'

'I wouldn't have made that much anyway by the time the auctioneers take their cut from it.' Ms Sims said.

But now, with Harris beginning his prison sentence for a string of 12 indecent assaults, Ms Sims has mixed emotions.

She said: 'I really feel for the victims and I just can't believe it, he seemed such a nice man on Animal Hospital. But yet the portrait was something that my late father gave to me. For now it will remain in storage but I can't look at it in the same way.'

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