Two of the regulars on the long-running PBS series “Antiques Roadshow” have run into debt and legal problems. The New York Times reports that the Keno brothers, Leslie and Leigh, have been behaving in recent months in a way that is “oddly out of sync with their stature as antique world luminaries. A buying spree this spring left them with nearly $600,000 in debt and spurred legal action from two auction houses.”
The Kenos have been “perhaps the country’s highest-profile antique dealers,” the report notes, adding: “Leslie Keno was once a director of American furniture and decorative arts at Sotheby’s. Leigh Keno was a highly regarded specialist at Christie’s.”
They have appeared as celebrity appraisers on all 20 seasons of the PBS show.
“More bizarrely, in several instances during one auction, the brothers, who are partners in at least one business, bid against each other,” The Times reports. “Their competing efforts sent the price of routine items soaring, according to court papers.”
The report adds: “At that auction in April, for example, by New Orleans Auction Galleries, the Kenos bid against each other about 50 times for a Turkish Angora carpet, according to court papers filed by the auction house. One brother bid by phone, the other online. After a few opening bids, no one else competed for the rug. The item, with a low estimate of $800, ended up being bought by Leslie for $14,500.”
He reportedly did not pay for the item, which was part of what prompted a suit by the auction house, which accuses the brothers of “auction misconduct, which resulted in unjustifiably higher purchase prices of auction items.”
“All told, the brothers bought 244 items at the April auction, and then did not pay the $400,000 bill,” The Times adds. “They were also sued by Kamelot Auctions in Philadelphia, where they bought 89 items in May but did not pay the bill of nearly $200,000, according to the company’s lawyer.”