by Isle of Thanet Gazunder Arts Correspondent Mary Hinge
A Ramsgate man is hoping for a 'Happy New Ear!' following a find that could turn out to be 'Cash in the Attic'!
Local celebrity Richard Eastcliff was clearing out the loft of his Victorian cliff top mansion over the holidays when he came across a chest full of old documents. One of them was a letter addressed to 'Miss Betty Swallochs, The Hague, Netherlands', but the 29 year old former TV star could never have guessed what he was about to find inside!
'I opened it and out dropped what looked like a mummified ear,' Mr Eastcliff told the Gazunder. 'I'd never seen anything like it. Once I got over the shock, I saw there was also a note inside.' The note read: 'All my lobe, Vincent'.
Van Gogh, whose paintings sell for up to $85m, is documented as having stayed in Ramsgate while he was teaching there in 1876. The Dutch artist even sketched the view from his bedroom window on Spencer Square. Although he is known to have cut off part of his left ear following a row with fellow artist Gauguin in 1888, no mention has ever been made of what happened to his right ear.
Mr Eastcliff has now put the ear up for sale on internet auction site eBay, with a £1m minimum bid. 'I think it could well be of interest to galleries, collectors or trusts,' he said. 'It may even attract scientists who want to perform DNA testing on it. If Van Gogh's paintings can go for millions, just think how much a piece of the artist himself might be worth!'
He said he hoped the ear might form the centrepiece of an international Van Gogh Museum based in Ramsgate which 'would knock Margate's planned Turner Centre into a cocked hat'. But he admitted: 'At the end of the day I need the money, following an ill-advised investment in my former accountant Cyril's Virgin Island-based hedge fund last year.'
Click here to see Van Gogh's ear listed on eBay
Click here to see Van Gogh's sketch of Ramsgate