AN avid antique and painting collector thinks he might have stumbled on a genuine Picasso.

Martin Barton, 81, first thought he might own one of the paintings after reading our article on Picasso masterpieces selling for £80m.

He was then inspired to have a look at his own painting, which was hanging upstairs.

Martin said: “I had forgotten all about it and nearly fainted when I saw the picture in the paper, because I thought, I’m sure I have something similar.

“It was also the signature at the bottom of the painting that made me think it could be genuine. So I had a closer look with my magnifying glass. It has been a really enjoyable few days thinking about this.”

He was so excited he phoned his friend who told him he “didn’t know what to think, but he didn’t know anyone else who had discovered this” and suggested Martin went to a specialist.

Martin added: “I might go to Bolton Museum just to see if it’s right or wrong, but that will be the end of it.”

His wife Irene was in disbelief and told Martin not to be silly.

The potential profit that could come from this if it is genuine, doesn’t appeal to Martin, who doesn’t want to sell it.

He just really enjoys collecting paintings to brighten up the walls and add character to the room.

Martin became a collector to keep him busy during his retirement from engineering.

He added: "I enjoy buying and admiring the pictures, but never sell them. It’s a good talking point when seeing people, and telling them that this could have been done by a master.”

His passion is also tied to wanting to know the reason behind the painting and understanding the mind of Picasso at the time.

The usual process for authenticating Picassos starts with an auction house having a thorough look at the painting to assess if it might be genuine.

Arrangements would then be made to show it to the Foundation Picasso in Paris, where the artist's family evaluate the paintings.