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BBC presenter asks Twitter to help find stolen portrait of her mother by artist lost in the 90s

BBC presenter Mishal Husain calls on Twitter users to help find portrait of her mother by celebrated artist who painted the Queen and Winston Churchill after it was stolen from a London garage in the 1990s

  • The BBC presenter, 48, appealed to her followers to find the long-lost painting
  • Users jumped into action and immediately enhanced the photo of the piece 
  • The painter, Bernard Hailstone, is known for his work with royals but was also prolific in painting civil defence workers and transport staff during WWII
  • Do you know the whereabouts of the portrait? – email [email protected]


DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE MISSING PORTRAIT IS? 

If you know anything about the whereabouts of the missing portrait, please email [email protected]

BBC presenter Mishal Husain has launched a social media appeal for help finding a lost portrait of her mother that was stolen in the 1990s. 

The Today Programme host, 48, posted a grainy photograph of the Hailstone portrait of her mother, Shama, now 76, on Twitter on Sunday night with an appeal for help to her over 243,000 followers.

She posted: ‘A long shot .. can anyone help me locate this portrait of my mother? It was stolen while stored in a garage in London in the 1990s and most likely ended up in a skip. But if not – it would be amazing to find it. Artist was Bernard Hailstone’. 

Shama Husain was a teacher and former producer for the Pakistan Television Corporation.

Together with her husband, Tazi, a urologist and keen amateur painter, the family moved from Britain to the Middle East, in 1985.

Husain’s father, Tazi, who died in 2016, commissioned the painting from Hailstone sometime between 1978 and 1980, which Husain has attributed to his love of pastel paintings and wanting one in his house.

The portrait of Husain’s mother by Bernard Hailstone was stolen from a London garage in the 1990s 

The BBC presenter posted the appeal last night but admitted that finding the painting was a 'long shot'

The BBC presenter posted the appeal last night but admitted that finding the painting was a ‘long shot’

MISHAL HUSAIN

Born in Northampton, Husain spent most of her early life in the UAE after her dad got a job at a specialist urology unit overseas when she was two.

She returned to the UK when she was 12 to attend boarding school and went to New Hall, Cambridge to read law before studying for a Masters in Law at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. 

Husain started in journalism as a producer at Bloomberg in 1996 before moving to the BBC in 1998.

Mishal Husain, 48, was named as one of the 500 most influential people in Britain in January 2016

Mishal Husain, 48, was named as one of the 500 most influential people in Britain in January 2016

Her nightly news programme on BBC World News developed a devoted following in the early 2000s around the time of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Husain joined the Today programme in 2013 after 15 years of service at the BBC and now anchors BBC News on Sundays.

She was named as one of the 500 most influential people in Britain in January 2016, the year after winning Broadcaster of the Year at the London Press Club Awards. 

Husain was the 11th highest-paid woman at the BBC in 2019-20, taking home between £265,000 and £269,999.

Tazi organised the sitting to be London and had the one square-metre painting hang in the family home in Abu Dhabi.

Before Mishal’s family moved back to the U.K their belongings were transported and stored in a garage in north London that belonged to relatives.

Mishal said: ‘One day the garage was burgled and was completely cleared out. All the contents were personal possessions and I always imagined the burglars tearing this open and being terribly disappointed. I have often thought they probably just dumped it on a skip.

‘But I have never forgotten about that painting because it is such a good likeness of my mother as I remember her in my childhood.

‘The portrait came up in conversation with her recently and I said that if she could find a photo of it, then I would try via social media to see if it can be found.

‘Maybe there is someone out there who bought this painting all those years ago and have always wondered who the woman was. It would be wonderful if it can be found and returned to us.’

Twitter users have already helped Husain by digitally enhancing the old photograph of the painting to help those seeking the portrait.

Husain tweeted her delight at the enhancements to the low-quality photograph she had posted.

She said: ‘Poor photo of the lost portrait already improved! Thank you’ 

Bernard Hailstone found fame as a portrait painter during the Second World War while he was serving as part of the Auxillary Fire Service. It is not known why Mishal’s mother was selected as a subject. 

His most famous works were of the Royal Family, including portraits of the Queen, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Lord Louis Mountbatten and the Queen Mother.

Hailstone also painted the last officially-commissioned portrait of Sir Winston Churchill in 1955 before his death in 1965.

Hailstone was a prolific painter, creating several portraits of ordinary people, particularly transport workers and civil defence, during his career. 

Shama Husain, 76, sat for the portrait in London with revered painter Bernard Hailstone sometime between 1978 and 1980

Shama Husain, 76, sat for the portrait in London with revered painter Bernard Hailstone sometime between 1978 and 1980

Bernard Hailstone carring out the portrait of Her Majesty - who once asked him to move her TV aerial so she could watch the horse racing during a sitting

Bernard Hailstone carrying out the portrait of Her Majesty – who once asked him to move her TV aerial so she could watch the horse racing during a sitting

Mr Hailstone's son, Donovan, said: 'When he painted Winston Churchill they apparently discussed life in outer space

One of Bernard's studies of the Queen Mother before a final portrait was produced

Hailstone’s work included portraits of political heavyweights like Sir Winston Churchill and members of the Royal Family such as the Queen Mother

A cache of Hailstone originals were found at his former studio in Tonbridge, Kent in 2017 including portraits of the Queen.

The art haul was valued at around £35,000 and later sold.

Do you know the whereabouts of the portrait? – email [email protected] 

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