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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] *


BBC presenter Mishal Husain has taken to Twitter to find a Bernard Hailstone portrait of her mother which was stolen in the 1990s.

The Today Programme host posted a grainy photograph of the Hailstone portrait of her mother 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’. 

Mishal’s mother, Shama Husain, was a teacher and former producer for the Pakistan Television Corporation. The family moved to Britain from Abu Dhabi, where Mishal grew up, in 1981.  

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’

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.

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

Twitter users 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’ 

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

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

Bernard Hailstone while carrying out the portrait of Her Majesty – who once asked her to fix 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. 

Husain was the 11th highest-paid woman at the BBC in 2019-20, taking home between £265,000 and £269,999 for presenting on Radio 4’s Today programme, BBC One and Radio 4’s From Our Home Correspondent.

MailOnline has contact Mishal Husain and the BBC for comment.

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