Eleven days later, the owner texted photos of the artwork to Mr Schorer, who said he went directly to the man, where he said the man and his wife lived modestly. Mr. Schorer sat down at the kitchen table to look around the room.
“It was either a masterpiece or the biggest counterfeit I have ever seen,” he said.
Mr Schorer, who specializes in recovering lost artwork, paid the man an advance of $ 100,000 to sell the design, he said. (The exact terms are confidential, but both will get money when they are sold, he said.) Mr. Schorer would lose his lead if the work turned out to be a forgery.
Mr Phillipson said his friend, the owner of the drawing, declined to comment.
Three days later, Mr Schorer boarded a flight to England to hand the design over to Jane McAusland, a paper conservator who advises museums, dealers and auction houses. She did not respond to emails this week from The Times.
Three weeks after her visit, Ms McAusland told him the drawing had been stained with tea or coffee to make it look like an antique, Mr Schorer said. But he asked her to watch again, and she emailed back the next day with a picture. He clicked on it, and the image showed a translucent light shining through the paper.
“He bore the watermark of the trident, which is only present in Albrecht Dürer’s drawings,” he said. “My mind was blown away. “
Dürer’s preferred medium was special paper made by his patron, Jacob Fugger, one of the richest men who ever lived. Only Dürer’s studio had access to this paper, which bore the watermark of Fugger’s signature, according to Christof Metzger, Dürer expert and chief curator of the Albertina Museum in Vienna.