Penny wise - Pensioner bags a potential fortune after picking up £350,000 designer handbag in a charity shop for just £20

A lucky 73-year-old had to pinch himself after discovering the £20 handbag he bought in Oxfam is actually worth up to £350,000.

John Richard, of West Hampstead, London, had no idea of the spectacular value of the Philip Treacy creation when he bought it in the charity's Kingston branch.

The famous Irish designer creates hats for the rich and famous, including the likes of Lady Gaga and the influential late fashion editor of Tatler magazine, Isabella Blow.

He was forced to defend his work last year when a hat he made for Princess Beatrice to wear to the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton came in for widespread criticism.

Mr Richard said he was shocked to find the Treacy handbag 'lying in a box' as he trawled Oxfam for bargains.
The handbag has a distinctive Elvis Presley design by pop artist Andy Warhol and is believed to be one of only 10 ever made.

He only decided to check whether or not it was genuine two months after buying it.
Mr Richard told his local paper, the Hampstead and Highate Express: 'I decided to take it to the Philip Treacy shop and they confirmed that it was one of their’s.'

The handbag would have sold for between £200 and £400 when it was first made.
Mr Richard hopes to use cash from any future sale to pay for a hair salon for his partner - although expert auctioneers have told him to hang on to the handbag for the time being.
The pensioner says he has had interest in the eye catching piece from two private buyers in China - one of whom offered up to £350,000 for it.

Work by the Irish designer Philip Treacy is highly collectible.

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