Bitter row breaks out over 1952 painting of Sean Connery in his swimming trunks – after artist’s daughter claims Edinburgh college is refusing to return family heirloom
Alison Kendall says her late father Al Fairweather’s 1952 painting from a life class is being kept by the Edinburgh University college against her wishes
Oil-on-canvas painting shows a side-on view of Connery dressed in blue trunks
College says it’s standard practice to keep coursework as part of its collection
Kendall now considering legal action against the institution, she told Telegraph
By Jo Tweedy For Mailonline
Published: 13:22 GMT, 13 February 2022 | Updated: 13:27 GMT, 13 February 2022
A row has broken out between the daughter of an artist who painted a young Sean Connery in his swimming trunks and the Edinburgh College of Art – after the institution has refused to return the family heirloom to her, she claims.
Alison Kendall says her late father Al Fairweather’s 1952 painting from a life class is being kept by the Edinburgh University college against her wishes, despite multiple pleas from her to have the 70-year-old oil painting returned.
Retired bilingual secretary Ms Kendall says persistent approaches to the college have failed to secure her father’s painting – because, the institution says, it’s standard practice to keep previous students’ coursework.
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The oil-on-canvas, painted in 1952 by artist Al Fairweather, shows a side-on view of Bond star Sean Connery dressed in blue trunks. The artist’s daughter is claiming the Edinburgh College of Art has rebuffed her appeals to have the painting returned to her
Alison Kendall says her late father Al Fairweather’s 1952 painting of Connery from just before his Bond days is being kept by the Edinburgh University college against her wishes (Pictured: Sean Connery in Goldfinger)
MailOnline has contacted the Edinburgh College of Art for comment.
Ms Kendall told The Telegraph that she’s the rightful owner of the painting because her father left his works to her when he died in 1993. She first spotted the painting on display at a centenary exhibition at the Scottish college in 2007.
The oil-on-canvas painting shows a side-on view of Connery dressed in blue trunks, painted just before he auditioned for a stage production of South Pacific, a role which later led the way to his famous character- secret agent 007 James Bond.
The painting was included in the exhibition Ten Decades at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh in 2007.
Kendall told the newspaper: ‘My parents divorced when I was only two years old. It wasn’t amicable and I didn’t have much contact with my father.
‘As a result I didn’t have much of my father’s work growing up, only one or two paintings he gave me on my birthdays.’
Connery died in 2020, at the age of 90, after suffering with dementia. In the early Fifties, he became interested in bodybuilding and it was a visit to London in 1953 to enter the Mr Universe contest that kickstarted his acting career
Most famous Bond? Sean Connery and Kim Basinger pictured in Never Say Never Again in 1983
After urging the college to return the artwork to her, the College took legal advice, she says, claiming that she hadn’t enough proof that the oil painting on canvas was rightfully hers.
A spokesman for the University of Edinburgh told The Telegraph: ‘If the university [receives] a formal letter of claim for any works in our collections an investigation will of course be undertaken.’
Connery died in 2020, at the age of 90, after suffering with dementia.
Born Thomas Sean Connery into a working-class family in Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge district, he left school at 14 and got a job as a milkman.
A variety of other jobs followed, including as a labourer and lorry driver, and then a stint in the Royal Navy before a medical discharge.
He became interested in bodybuilding and it was a visit to London in 1953 to enter the Mr Universe contest that kickstarted his acting career.
The future James Bond star took the opportunity to audition for a West End production of South Pacific and landed a part in the chorus. Further stage roles followed and he also broke into television and film, eventually winning a prominent role in the 1959 Disney film Darby O’Gill And The Little People.
But it was being cast as 007 that catapulted him to international stardom and acclaim.
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