'Antiques Roadshow' Expert Sent to the Pokey.
July 13, 2002 7:21 AM   Subscribe

'Antiques Roadshow' Expert Sent to the Pokey. "Russell Pritchard III, a militaria expert, pleaded guilty to making the bogus TV appraisals. He also admitted defrauding artifact owners by giving them low appraisals on items, then reselling them at much higher prices and pocketing the profit." Pritchard was kicked off the show a couple years ago, when it was discovered that he was faking fabulous discoveries on the show in an effort to gain credibility. Fans of the US version of the show may remember the civil war sword found in an attic and the owner claimed he used the valuable weapon to cut watermelons. Pritchard could have received up to 135 years in prison, and $5.3 million in fines, but only received a year in prison, and ordered to repay his bilked clients $830k. I've always wondered about the credibility of the experts on that show, and whether they've ever quoted inflated or deflated values for personal gain. [via megosteve]
posted by crunchland (7 comments total)
I always thought Dan Elias was kind of a weasel himself.

A favorite artifact on that show for me was a helmet found in an attic that was supposedly from some period in antiquity that was priceless. My partner Charles commented that if he would've found it, he'd have drilled a couple holes in it and made a fabulous hanging planter out of it.
posted by TuffAustin at 7:33 AM on July 13, 2002

jelous queens!....nobody does hanging planters anymore......lol
posted by billybob at 7:38 AM on July 13, 2002

you must be from texas
posted by billybob at 7:39 AM on July 13, 2002

I adore that show, but with the "assembly line appraisal" method, I'm not surprised that mistakes are made (even though most of the appraisers seem amazingly knowledgable). Of course being deliberately malicious is different, but I think if I had something very valuable appraised on the show I would probably take the time to get a second opinion.
I can't help but think that an appraiser might not really know what something is, but pretend to recognize it because they don't want to look dumb on television.
posted by bonheur at 7:53 AM on July 13, 2002

That helmet TuffAustin mentions also turns out to have been a bit of a scam. It was another case of the appraiser and the owner both knowing exactly what it was she had and trying to generate auction interest.

Those Civil War militaria collectors were also busted for lying to other people about the value of some items so they could buy them on the cheap and resell them for their real worth. It was that situation that led to the revelations about the cheating on ARS.
posted by briank at 8:45 AM on July 13, 2002

I figured that any given Roadshow produces several dozen hours of footage, and what we see is the edited best. It would be a shame to find out that any bogus appraisals, or even questionable ones ever got past the editing stage. In fact, many of the appraisal session seemed a bit canned and non-spontaneous to me, like the appraiser has had time to research the subject and give a semi-confident performance for the camera. But I have never attended one in person, so I am just speculating.
posted by piskycritter at 8:49 AM on July 13, 2002

I actually went to the Antiques Roadshow when it was in San Francisco a few years back. I took my turn of the century pocketwatch, a Lucky Strike wooden signboard with Jean Harlow on it, and an opium pipe from mainland China.

The Lucky Strike thing was a reproduction.

Pocketwatch fairly valuable.

Opium pipe unknown.

It turns out when you watch that show you miss out on the really exciting part, which is waiting in line with your stuff for about 6 hours. Let me tell you, there's nothing more fun than slogging along through labyrinthine amusement-park style switchbacks, surrounded by bitchy octogenarian antiquers who want to get to Mill Valley before the shops shut, only to find that your stuff ain't much to write home about.

The line was eternal. The most vivid memory I have of it is that a guy half a lane in front of us had some horrific stuffed donkey thing that looked like it had been purchased in Tijuana about 2 days beforehand. After a few switchbacks, I began to fear the donkey. I knew it was coming every time, but it still managed to catch me unawares with its hideous grin and motley coloring. Then, slowly, I began to need the donkey. To love it. To welcome its approach.

oh. Where was I?

I'm surprised some of the people don't smack the experts who tell them their rifle's a repro, after all that tedium.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:40 PM on July 13, 2002 [1 favorite]

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