The iconic PBS series "Antiques Roadshow" has two celebrity appraisers who could be called icons themselves: twins Leigh and Leslie Keno. The Keno brothers, born in 1957 in upstate New York, grew up surrounded by antiques. Their parents were antique dealers, and both developed a passion for their wares early on -- so much so that they considered themselves antique dealers at 12, keeping meticulous accounts of their purchases.
Their enthusiasm for items of a certain age has led to greater public awareness and raised interest in antique furniture and objects, especially from the American colonial period.
Leigh Keno: American Furniture
Leigh Keno is founder and president of Keno Auctions and a partner with his brother in Keno Art Advisory. Most recently the brothers have teamed up in Keno Brothers Fine Automobile Auctions; Leigh Keno has had an interest in classic cars as well as antiques from his youth, and they have now brought their expertise in art and antiques to fine cars.
He has consulted with many private collectors about their artifacts, paintings, and furniture collections and has worked with many leading museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Colonial Williamsburg, Winterthur Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Leigh Keno earned a degree in art history from Hamilton College. Early on in his career, he was a visiting scholar at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. He worked at William Doyle Galleries in New York as director of the American furniture department before going on to Christie's, where he was a senior specialist in American furniture.
He has helped build some of the finest collections of American furniture and decorative arts in the country for private collectors and public institutions.
Leslie Keno: Early American Style
Before Leslie Keno joined with his brother at Keno Art Advisory and most recently at Keno Brothers Fine Automobile Auctions, he was a senior vice president and director of American Furniture and Decorative Arts at Sotheby’s in New York. He graduated from Williams College in American art. His intensive study of early American furniture from the Charles M. Davenport collection led to a catalog and exhibition of the collection at the Williams College Museum of Art.
At Sotheby's, he was responsible for many successful single-owner sales of American furniture and decorative arts. He achieved record-breaking sales of American furniture, bringing international attention and public awareness to these pieces.
"Antiques Roadshow" is not the only show on which they have appeared as experts. From 2003 to 2004 they hosted the PBS show "Find" and also hosted the internet show "Collect This! With the Keno Brothers" on MSN. Most recently the two collaborated on on Fox.
The Kenos have written a book on antiques together, called "Hidden Treasures: Searching for Masterpieces of American Furniture." The two have also collaborated on magazine design articles and monthly features for the magazines House Beautiful and This Old House.
The Keno Bros. Collection
A love of antiques and an understanding of modern design combine to form the sensibility they bring to their Keno Bros. Collection, which they developed with the high-end manufacturer Theodore Alexander. This is an assortment of more than 40 pieces based on the furniture of the past, ranging from the 18th century to mid-century modern.
Their collection is not just a replication of antiques -- they have taken elements from these earlier periods and interpreted them for modern times. And since the best of furniture has always been functional, they have also focused on that aspect.
They have used a wide variety of materials in their furniture, including striped ebony, maple, marble, brass, blond sycamore, mahogany, and olive ash burl. Pieces include chests, bookshelves, and tables.