MOST artists would be celebrating if they sold a piece of work at one of their opening exhibitions, but not Tori Gray.
The illustrator’s delight turned to horror when she realised a gallery had accidentally flogged an “invaluable” piece for just £40.
The recent graduate, 24, put her work on show at the Golden Hare in Victoria Street last week in a bid to make a name for herself in art circles.
Many of the prints, cards and artist’s books are on sale to the public but this intricate work – estimated to be worth £400 – was just for show.
Entitled, Time is the Longest Distance Between Two Places, the collection of vintage postcards and old Ordinance Survey maps had taken Tori a painstaking five weeks to make.
The elongated accordion book formed part of her degree and was a “labour of love” never intended for sale.
Since it was sold to an unknown buyer on Wednesday, Tori, of London Road, has launched an appeal on Facebook and Twitter to try and track it down – offering free prints as a reward.
She said: “It might sound silly to be so attached to it but it means a lot to me.
“It’s a one-off, I won’t be able to make it again because the postcards are all unique. It truly is one of a kind.
“It’s not the money, it had a lot of sentimental value for me.
“It took me weeks to do, everything was hand printed, it was hand bonded and the pages were hand stitched.
“Somebody obviously liked it to buy it which is nice but I’m desperate to get it back. It was only on display so people could commission me to do something similar.
“I know it obviously could have been sold to a tourist, it might not even be in Edinburgh any more, but I thought I have to try and get it back.”
The exhibition had only been due to be on a month but her work is proving so popular its run has been extended to January. It is one of her first public showings after the up-and-coming artist graduated with first class honours at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee in summer.
Gallery owner Helen Coburn said staff at the venue were devastated by the mistake.
They have since joined the hunt to get it back by appealing on the gallery’s social networking sites in the hope the mystery buyer sees it.
She said: “We feel awful for Tori, it was just a very unfortunate mistake. Unfortunately there is no way of tracing the sale so we just have to hope that someone comes forward.
“The exhibition has been really popular and well received. The piece sold had a similar name to another one that was for sale so unfortunately in the busy run up to Christmas with a lot of people out shopping, it was sold.
“Hopefully someone will see the appeal and we can help get it back to her.”
Papier mache more expensive than marble
The gaffe is far from the only embarrassing mistake made when it comes to the art world.
Struggling artist Andrew Vickers made a major blunder when he unwittingly used vintage comics worth £20,000 to make a papier mâché model. The error was discovered by an avid comic fan who recognised the cover of The Avengers No.1 edition in the Paperboy sculpture displayed at a South Yorkshire exhibition.
The creation would have been cheaper to cast out of Italian marble.
At the other end of the spectrum, unwitting passers-by in New York snapped up original works by street artist Banksy in October worth six-figure sums for just £35 each.