Founder | Leigh Keno

Leigh Keno

Leigh Keno is founder and president of Keno Auctions and Keno Art Advisory. During his nearly 50 years in the art and antiques world, he has helped build some of the top institutional and private collections of paintings, furniture and decorative arts in the world. Leigh has either advised or represented some of the country’s leading museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Colonial Williamsburg, Winterthur Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Leigh’s lifelong immersion in the area of fine and decorative arts began at the age of 11, and he is considered one of the foremost experts in the field. He holds a BA in Art History from Hamilton College. At the age of 19, he was appointed as a visiting scholar at Winterthur Museum in order to re-catalogue American ceramics and in 1979, he was at a graduate fellow at Historic Deerfield. His summer paper on windsor chairs was subsequently published in Antiques Magazine in May, 1980.

Starting in 1979, Leigh Keno worked as a buyer, appraiser and Director of the American Furniture and Decorative Arts Department at Doyle Galleries in New York City. He was then appointed Vice President at Christie’s Appraisals Inc. In this capacity, Leigh travelled throughout the United States analyzing and appraising fine and decorative arts on behalf of banks, lawyers, institutions and private clients. Leigh also served as an expert in Christie’s American Furniture and Decorative Arts department where his responsibilities included compiling, cataloging and selling some of the greatest American decorative arts in the world, setting auction records in the process. He was also the expert in charge of folk art at Christie’s. In 1986, Leigh opened his own gallery specializing in important 18th to 20th century American paintings, furniture and decorative arts, which he continues to operate while also founding Keno Auctions in 2009. The firm has thrived since its first auction- which grossed just over $6,000,000.00. Since then, Keno Auctions has continued to thrive, setting multiple world records with fine and decorative arts ranging from 18th century through modern and contemporary art. In the company’s first two years of existence, it sold over 13 million worth of fine and decorative arts to buyers globally. Leigh Keno lectures throughout the country and for more than 20 years has volunteered as an appraiser on the Emmy nominated PBS television program Antiques Roadshow. Leigh will be filming across the country with the Antiques Roadshow in the Spring of 2020.

In 2000, Leigh co-authored Hidden Treasures: Searching for Masterpieces of American Furniture, which recounts some of his most memorable discoveries of American masterpieces. Leigh has written monthly furniture and design columns for House Beautiful and This Old House magazines and was Editor-at-Large for Traditional Home magazine. He was co-host of the internet program “Collect This” for MSN, and co-host of the PBS program “Find” for several seasons. Most recently, Leigh co-hosted ‘Buried Treasures’ a prime-time television series on Fox network. In 2008, Leigh and his brother accompanied First Lady Laura Bush on a History Channel televised tour of the White House, entitled The White House: Behind Closed Doors.

For 24 years, Leigh was an exhibitor and served on the American furniture vetting committee at the prestigious Winter Antiques Show in New York. He was elected to the Dealer’s Committee and, for four years, as Director of Winter Antique Show Vetting. In 2001, he was appointed by the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service to its Art Advisory Panel in Washington, D.C., on which he served for a decade. In 2005 Leigh was honored to be awarded the National Humanities Medal at the White House by the President of the United States for his role as an educator in the field of American History and Artifacts. Leigh has been a member of numerous professional dealer organizations, including the National Antiques and Art Dealers Association (NAADA), and the Antique Dealers Association of America (ADA). He is a founding member of the Shelburne Museum National Advisory Committee. Leigh was a certified member of the Appraisers Association of America (AAA) and also served on their board of directors for two years.

Leigh Keno has had a lifelong interest in classic cars. Since 2006, he has been a judge in the Preservation Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, considered the most prestigious classic car event in the world. In 2011 Leigh presented a lecture via video at the Simeone Automotive Museum Think Tank, entitled The Stewardship of Historically Important Automobiles. This groundbreaking symposium was the progenitor of the award-winning book of the same title, published in 2012, for which Leigh Keno was honored to have co-authored a chapter.

Senior Specialist | Jack O’Brien

Jack O’Brien is an Americana, Folk Art and American Paintings specialist, who joined forces with Leigh Keno in 2007.  Prior to his start at Keno Auctions he had the privilege of working as a researcher for the Winterthur Museum on the Southeastern Massachusetts Furniture Project.  Jack is a co-author of Harbor and Home: Furniture of Southeastern Massachusetts, and has also published articles in The Magazine Antiques and Antiques and Fine Arts on the Newport influenced furniture of New Bedford. In 2015 Jack became a member of the Appraiser’s Association of America.