HoL Classic: Antiques Roadshow Appraiser to Contestant, December 2008

And that painting I said was an original Picasso? Leigh says it’s a poster. And not of a Picasso.

As our crack team continues to roam the catacombs of Marrakesh looking for a letter once sent by Morocco’s finest rugmaker to his cousin, we continue to dip into the archives for classic letters.

Dear Ms. Molly Foote,

In case you don’t remember me, I’m Leslie Keno, the appraiser you met in your recent appearance on Antiques Roadshow. You brought in a beautiful walnut desk long hidden in your grandmother’s basement, and I suggested it might be an 18th century Churchill model, some of the best furniture crafted in New England during the Revolutionary War. I also suggested that–due to a unique letter found in a secret drawer that appears to be written by George Washington himself–this desk and letter together might be worth between $1 million and $3 million dollars.

Unfortunately, after bringing a photograph of both items back to my brother Leigh for a second opinion, he pointed out that the screws on the desk were visible, suggesting it might be a modern creation of the Swedish furniture-maker IKEA. He also noticed something else I had overlooked–the letter from George Washington received an A-. And finally, the secret drawer wasn’t secret at all, but plainly visible.

My new estimate for the desk and letter together is approximately $100 to $200, although with wear and tear you may be better off posting it to the “free” section of Craigslist.

Merry Christmas!


Leslie Keno


Luckily for Ms. Foote, the program had already aired by the time this letter was drafted, and she had managed to sell the desk for 1.5 million dollars to an unnamed collector. History of the Letter attempted to purchase the letter from George Washington, but our bid of half a bag of Funyuns-brand Onion flavored Rings and a can of Diet Rite was surprisingly rejected. Instead, the letter went to a collector in London, one Mrs. Elizabeth Queen, who apparently lost family in the Revolutionary conflict and still blames “that wooden-toothed, tree-chopping motherfucker.” We were devastated to miss out on history at the time, but this letter came to our attention soon after. We were, needless to say, relieved.

Unfortunately for Ms. Foote, Ms. Keno’s brother missed the mark as well. The letter from George Washington did receive an A-, but only because it was to Lafayette, and French custom at the time dictated that an independent teacher grade important letters before they were sent, to ensure no failures of communication. The “Secret Drawer,” which was not actually secret, but merely awkwardly placed in the bottom right, actually had a secret drawer inside, which contained roughly six hundred thousand dollars worth of Opium. And finally, the desk was studied by historians at Oslo State University, who determined that it was not merely “an” Ikea desk, but rather “The” Ikea desk. It was actually commissioned by King Johan III in 1580 and is one of the few originals remaining from the workshop of Oskar Ikea, who first utilized Sweden’s large, natural flatboard forests to create the elegant luxury furniture designs we are all so familiar with today. Most of his originals are thought lost, and this one would likely fetch anywhere from 22-30 million dollars.

Unfortunately, the collector put a few books on top of the desk and it collapsed under the weight.


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