Wednesday, September 21, 2011
A Visit With Antiques Expert Leigh Keno
BB with Leigh Keno
This week brought the opportunity to visit with American antiques expert Leigh Keno. I recognized Leigh from his appearances as an appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow on PBS. TD and I enjoy watching that show where typically some lady in Omaha will bring in an old vase that her next door neighbor gave her twenty years ago and it turns out to be a rare French find worth $50,000 and the woman just about faints.
But mostly I wanted to meet him because he is from Mohawk, New York, the town of approximately 2,000 people across the Erie Canal from Herkimer where my O'Donnell ancestors lived and not far from New Hartford where I grew up. My cousin Ginny got married and had her reception in Mohawk. Leigh told me that in fact his father was the art teacher at the Herkimer High School. He and his twin brother Leslie enjoyed fly-fishing in the Mohawk Creek. Both of Leigh's parents were also antiques dealers, and he and Leslie started buying and selling when they were twelve years old. Leigh went to Hamilton College in nearby Clinton and Leslie went to Williams College in Massachusetts. "We paid for college with the stoneware collection that we bought and sold," said Leigh.
With a passion for American antiques and paintings, Leigh went to work after college for the Doyle auction house in New York City, and Leslie went to Sotheby's where he still works. Leigh subsequently toiled at Christie's and then became an independent antiques dealer, helping private clients build personal collections. Leigh was been a regular on the Antiques Roadshow since 1997, and in 2000 the twins wrote a book, Hidden Treasures, Searching for Masterpieces of American Furniture. This past summer they co-hosted a reality show called Buried Treasures.
And now comes Leigh's newest challenge. In 2009 he launched his own auction house, Keno Auctions. "With an auction house I get to handle a variety of things – from Danish modern to jewelry to contemporary prints," he says. The business is headquartered in a brick house on the upper east side, and Leigh reports that he lives upstairs with "my better half Jasmine" and their 13-year-old son. This coming up weekend on Saturday the 24th, Keno Auctions will be holding a sale of important paintings, furniture, decorative art and jewelry at the Marriott Hotel in Stamford, Connecticut. Check it out if you can; Leigh says that items are priced at conservative estimates which means you could get a deal!