Sold! NYC Auction Offers Fine Art, Jewelry
Take a trip this weekend to Keno Auctions and check out some high-end rarities—or simply see its owner, a TV veteran.
Founded in 2009, Keno Auctions on 127 East 69th St., Manhattan, brings in many different types of visitors. Some have come specifically for an auction event, some to get a better understanding of the items the firm specializes in: fine art, jewelry, Asian art and furniture items. Others come to see if they can catch a glimpse of the auction house’s founder and president, Leigh Keno.
Keno, with brother Leslie, have been fixtures of the perennial PBS favorite “Antiques Roadshow” for 15 years as volunteer appraisers, offering valuation on furniture both rare and, sometimes, not so rare. Recently, the Keno Brothers launched the show “Buried Treasures” on the Fox network. Even after such national TV exposure, the primary goal of the Keno family is the evaluation and transition of rare and wanted items from one owner to the next.
Keno Auctions works with estate executors, financial advisors and private clients for the explicit purpose of providing fully-researched information on the items they will eventually provide agency for within their service. Leigh Keno, and his specialist partners Jack O’Brien, Catherine Skibitcky, and painting expert Betty Krulik, insist on one thing, which Leigh Keno recites almost as a mantra: “We believe in freshness and low estimates and total transparency in the auction process. Those are three things we feel are really important. From being in this business, really, almost since I was 12 years old, those three things are so important.”
“What I mean by transparency is that we stand by everything we sell,” Leigh Keno continued, “when people ask for condition reports, we (possibly) give them too much information, by mentioning nicks, scratches…but it is so important to do that.”
“We have online auctions as well and the great thing about that is (on Artfact.com or Kenoauctions.com) people can see the items that will be in the auction and get information about the items. The Internet really has changed the way people purchase things. In our last auction, we had bidders from 30 different countries online. You can offer a worldwide audience for an auction now. It’s democratized the business, in a way.”
Keno specifies the company’s purpose on the site: Keno Auctions’ main objective is to realize maximum prices at auction, while coordinating and simplifying the process of appraising and liquidating estate property and private collections.
This weekend offers not one, but two day-trip options for fans of art, collectable items, antiques and Keno himself—either the auction house in Manhattan or an auction event to be held in Stamford, CT. Either way, now is a good opportunity to check out extraordinary, vintage, and highly-prized items with one of the foremost experts, and along the way get some tips for those looking to buy from an auction house or an antiques dealer.
DAY TRIPPER DIGEST
Estimated Travel Time: About an hour.
Why it’s Worth the Trip: If you’re taking in the sights of Manhattan this weekend, wouldn’t it be fun to see what’s happening at Leigh Keno’s shop? And if you’re feeling like taking a longer ride, you might find some treasures of your own at the Keno Auctions event in Stamford, CT.
How to Get There From Here: Detailed driving directions.
While You’re in the Area: In New York, it’s not about where the stores are, but how many you want to try out. For instance, take a look at Shakespeare And Co. Booksellers or Archivia Books for your “analog Kindle” needs, Sara Japanese Pottery, or grab something on the way to the BYOB atGarnet Wines & Liquors.
If you choose to head to Connecticut, the Marriott is not far from the Stamford Town Center featuring stores like Godiva Chocolate, Williams-Sonoma, Victoria’s Secret and The Apple Store.
One trend Keno appreciates, and keeps in mind with the items his auction house presents, is the free attitude with style and time periods of items. “Collectors are mixing up things now," Keno said. "They’re mixing modern styles with antiques. They might have a Native American piece with a Gio Ponti Italian Modern table, and a Chippendale chair next to it. People are not creating entire rooms that are a single period, which they were doing regularly 40 or 50 years ago. They’re mixing it up, and the contemporary items are now becoming more popular.”
“We have an auction starting at 10 a.m. on Sept. 24 (with previews on the 22nd and 23rd), in Stamford, Conn., at the Marriott Hotel, just off Route 95 (right next to the exit). It’s a mixture of American paintings, European paintings, jewelry, marine paintings, and folk art. There’s a little bit there for almost everyone. We’re very excited about it.”
“This sale mostly has items from estates, and a couple of collections that have been put together; mostly very 'fresh' (indicating items that have either never, or have infrequently, been in the resale/auction market). And the great thing about the Stamford area is that it is one of the top antique shop areas. There are quite a few shops in the area (probably in the hundreds) and they can come for the auction and also check out these shops. Stamford is a great area for antiquing.”
Keno offered a few points for people interested in antiquing or in buying from an auction, primarily on the subject of selecting a reputable dealer. “If I’m buying from a dealer, I’d make sure that for anything over a couple hundred dollars, that they would guarantee the age and condition of (the pieces they’re offering). A dealer should mention all the condition issues and put it in writing, and give you a receipt.”
“Obviously, when you have things in the thousands, or the ten-thousands or six-figures, it becomes extremely important (to get it all in writing).”
Another tip Keno mentioned was expert corroboration. “It depends on where you live, but sometimes you can get a local museum," he said. "They’ll know which dealers to call, which auction houses are good to deal with. It’s sometimes very good to get in touch with your local museum.”
Keno continued: “If you’re buying from a dealer that is more out in the country, and there isn’t a museum you can contact or work with, make sure it is a reputable place that stands by their goods. See what they will guarantee.” Keno pointed out that, on the Keno Auctions site, an entire section is devoted to the process of navigating an auction from identifying items you want, to the actual bidding procedure, to claiming your pieces. “Don’t be afraid to hit the auction preview, or to ask (all of your questions or concerns to) the expert in charge," he said.