It's March 1918. Sticking out from a hedge in rural Sussex is a brown-paper package containing a painting of 6 apples, Cézanne's famous 'Pommes'. It's been left there by the economist John Maynard Keynes, who's been dropped at the end of the lane leading to his friends, the artists Clive and Vanessa Bell's home, and can only manage to carry his suitcases.

Writer and broadcaster Nicholas Wapshott tells the extraordinary and largely unknown story of how Keynes persuaded the British government to take paintings in lieu of France's war debt. So as shells rained down on Paris, Keynes was buying priceless works by Manet, Delacroix, Degas, Gauguin and many more which now hang in the National Gallery and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. The National Gallery didn't rate Cézanne so Keynes kept 'Pommes' for himself and later hung it over his bed.

Contributors include Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery, Stephen Keynes (the economist's great nephew) and Keynes expert Victoria Chick.

Producer: Trevor Dann

A Trevor Dann production for BBC Radio 4.