A famous antiques expert known for appraising treasures on ‘Antiques Roadshow’ claims he was tricked by a woman who ripped off his auction house out of over $100,000 – and is suing to get the money back.
Leigh Keno, who along with her twin brother, Leslie, is a long-time performer on the PBS TV show, says the shopper seemed legit as she was buying $5,000 to $10,000 worth of items at a time and still paying the bill .
“The checks didn’t bounce,” he said.
The buyer, whose name appears to be Chihyu Lu but goes by Grace Lu, then went shopping for a long list of Asian furniture and decorative items, including a bronze ‘libation’ cup with beast handle , a watercolor depicting a sculpted cat and dragon. shop window, Keno said.
She racked up $178,450 in merchandise, which Keno said he let her take with a promise to pay later.
“I kick myself that I allowed this to happen,” said Keno, who runs Keno Auctions on the Upper East Side. “I’ve been in the business all my life. This is the first time this has happened. »
Lu took about 40 pieces in July 2020, paying $45,000 but then refusing to return the balance of $133,450, according to a lawsuit filed by the auction house against Lu in Manhattan State Supreme Court in 2021.
Lu claims she tried to resell some of the items and was told they appeared to be “later copies”, according to court documents.
Keno said the items were not represented as antiques from any particular period and that Lu viewed them in his showroom for several weeks before buying them.
Lu then bid at one of Keno’s January 2022 auctions under a different name, buying nearly half of the sale, Keno said. He said when his staff realized it was the same person, they told him to pay his entire bill and never heard back.
Keno said he was speaking out because Lu allegedly took other auction houses for a ride.
Since 2020, she has bid on more than $230,000 in treasures sold by various auction houses through Live Auctioneers websites and never closed the deals, according to documents reviewed by The Post.
Among those she allegedly stiffened was David Killen, who runs an eponymous auction house in Chelsea. He told the Post that Lu was the winning bidder for around $13,000 worth of Asian items a month ago 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 lose value if auctioned again.
“People think, ‘Oh, there must be something wrong because the person who bought it never paid for it,'” he said. “It gives off what we in the business call a bad smell.”
Killen said he finally asked Lu to pick up and pay for his items this week when he told him another buyer was willing to spend thousands of dollars on the 900 “sword leg” table. $ that she had earned. He said she came rushing to get it and pay his bill.
Lu did not immediately respond to requests for comment.