The Keno Brothers, Antiques Roadshow Stars, Face Accusations of Improper Bidding

See the surprising allegations against well-regarded twin art appraisers.

Antique appraisers Leigh and Leslie Keno. Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images.

The well-known twin appraisers Leigh and Leslie Keno, who are frequently seen assessing valuable objects on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, are facing some serious accusations.

Graham Bowley in the New York Times provided a lengthy and detailed report on the “telegenic twins,” who are accused of not paying their bills by regional auction houses in New Orleans and Philadelphia.

Related: Check Out These ‘Rolling Sculptures’ at Keno Brothers Automobile Auctions

The Times alleges that the brothers, “who are partners in at least one business, bid against each other,” in several instances. “Their competing efforts sent the price of routine items soaring, according to court papers.”

At New Orleans Auctions Galleries, the Kenos bid against each other “about 50 times” for a single Turkish Angora carpet. One brother bid by phone, the other online. After a few opening bids, no one else competed for the rug and despite a low estimate of $800, wound up selling to Leslie for $14,500. “Then he did not pay for it,” according to the Times.

New Orleans Auctions Galleries claim the brothers bid against each other with similar results at least two other times. The first was for a $7,250 “Italian painting” with “a low estimate of $400,” and the second was “$1,600 for a Louis XVI-style bed,” with “a low estimate of $300,” according to the Times.

The brothers were reportedly “too busy to be interviewed by the New York Times,” and instead submitted a “joint email statement” noting that they “seek ‘hidden treasures.'”

Altogether, the Kenos reportedly bought 244 items at the New Orleans April auction, and 89 items this past May from Philadelphia’s Kamelot auctions. The bill for both was reportedly $600,000.

Related: Bidders Vie for Arts-Related Domain Names at Heritage Auctions

artnet News reached out to the Keno brothers’ lawyer, Brad E. Harrigan, for comment. Harrigan reiterated the point he made to the Times: “It was a temporary issue of liquidity, unprecedented for them but hardly unheard-of in the auction business.”


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