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He was put under psychiatric care, diagnosed as obsessive-compulsive and given antidepressants.He left school and, shortly afterwards, home, working in a succession of dead-end jobs.Along the way, he started reading books about philosophy.‘It was like, “This is what’s been doing my head in for 15 years.” It was exciting to discover I wasn’t some weirdo after all.’ At 20 he took an OU course in philosophy, going on to study the subject at Cambridge. The public-school-educated son of an architect, Golding had worked as a junior dealer on a City trading floor; after ‘falling in with the wrong crowd’, he developed a heroin habit.

Among the pieces by such established names as Damien Hirst, Banksy and Mat Collishaw was a painting by a pair of artists called the Connor Brothers.

Snelle was voluble, quick-talking, with a lively and discursive mind.

Golding was quieter, apparently content to let his friend do most of the talking.

Having been starved for so long of any knowledge about the world outside their commune, they developed a way of communicating their discoveries to each other through notepads and sketches - an interaction that evolved into art that was an attempt ‘to make sense of the world’, steeped - so it was said - ‘in references to both historical and popular culture’, presenting ‘an almost anthropological view of contemporary western society.’ Untrained primitives from a traumatised background, struggling to ‘make sense of the world’ through their art – the story might have been designed to capture the fickle attentions of the art world. Having perpetuated the hoax for 18 months, they had reached a point where their disguise had become an encumbrance, and they now wanted to break cover.

A short while later I was sent an explanatory letter from Mike Snelle.

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