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Did 'Antiques Roadshow' Bros, Keno Twins, Commit Auction Fraud?

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on July 25, 2016 3:57 PM

If you watch Antiques Roadshow on public television, then you know its charming hosts, twin brothers Leslie and Leigh Keno. They are sophisticated and handsome fellows, 59, with fancy credentials and a passion for Americana. They love old items and they know better than most what is and is not junk, what things are worth. That is why their actions have been raising eyebrows lately.

The brothers have, until recently, enjoyed great reputations in the fine collectibles community. But the Kenos drew suspicion when they bid against each other at auctions, driving prices absurdly high, and fell behind on their bills. The New York Times reports that the twins are accused of auction fraud. The brothers say it's all a misunderstanding.

Auction Fraudsters?

Suspicions about the Kenos arose when they started bidding against each other on items in several auctions this past spring reportedly. One brother bid on the phone while the other was present and they drove up prices on items that they then did not pay for. It is unusual behavior for two people in business together and for the Kenos in particular, considering their decades of work for fine auction houses and their reputation for integrity.

They were sued and accused of "auction misconduct, which resulted in unjustifiably high prices for auction items." A similar lawsuit from another auction house has since been settled.

Giddy Bidding

The Kenos claim they just got excited about the items and didn't even notice that they were bidding against each other, calling it "a silly mistake." As for the unpaid bills, they claim a temporary cash crunch caused the delays in payment.

They did not agree to an interview with the New York Times. But the twins did write a joint email statement indirectly responding to questions about the bidding mishaps, saying that they were willing to pay escalated prices for items because "As specialists in our business, we seek 'hidden treasures,' and as researchers, we search for unique provenance of every object."

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