A famous antiques expert known for appraising treasures on the Antique Roadshow claims he was duped by a woman who cheated his auction house out of more than $100,000 – and is suing to get the money back.
Leigh Keno, who is a long-time fixture on PBS television along with his twin brother Leslie, says the shopper seemed legitimate as she bought $5,000 to $10,000 worth of items at a time and always paid the bill.
“The checks didn’t bounce,” he said.
The shopper, whose name appears to be Chihyu Lu but is Grace Lu, then went shopping to purchase a laundry list of Asian furniture and decorative items, including a bronze “libation” cup with an animal handle, a watercolor painting of a cat, and a carved dragon Showcase said Keno.
She totaled $178,450 worth of merchandise, which Keno let her take away with a promise to pay later.
“I’m upset that I let this happen,” said Keno, who runs Keno Auctions on the Upper East Side. “I’ve been in business my whole life. This is the first time this has happened.”
Lu took about 40 in July 2020 and paid $45,000, but then refused to hand over the balance of $133,450, according to a lawsuit the auction house filed against Lu in 2021 in Manhattan Supreme Court .
Lu claims she tried to resell some of the items and was told they were “later copies,” according to court records.
Keno said the items were not presented as period antiques and that Lu viewed them in his showroom for several weeks before purchasing them.
Lu later bid under a different name at one of Keno’s January 2022 auctions and bought almost half of the sale, Keno said. He said that when his staff realized it was the same person, they told her to pay her entire bill, and then never heard back.
Keno said he spoke out because Lu allegedly fooled other auction houses.
Since 2020, she has bid on more than $230,000 worth of treasure sold by various auction houses through Live Auctioneers’ websites and has never completed the transactions, according to documents verified by The Post.
Among those she allegedly stiffened was David Killen, who runs an eponymous auction house in Chelsea. He told the Post that a month ago, Lu was the winner for about $13,000 worth of Asian items and refused to pay for or collect the goods.
Winning an item at auction is considered a legal agreement to buy it, he said.
Killen said they would fall in value if they were put up for auction again.
“People think, ‘Oh, there must be something wrong because the person who bought it never paid for it,'” he said. “It gets what we in the industry call a bad smell.”
Killen said he finally got Lu to pick up and pay for her items this week when he told her another buyer was willing to shell out thousands for the $900 “Schwertbein” table she won. He said she rushed in to get it and pay her bill.
Lu did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/09/antiques-roadshow-expert-claims-buyer-scammed-his-auction-house/ The Antiques Roadshow expert claims the buyer cheated his auction house