Ah, memories of law school. If the buyer had particular knowledge that the seller did not have (either general knowledge about the subject of what he was buying or particular knowledge about the item in question), then low-balls the seller and turns around and resells for a bigger price - the seller has a case and might get money for being duped. The law doesn't like "gotchas."
As a long time collector, I have found that for the most part Civil War dealers are very reputable and most like to turn their inventory quickly, in fact a 10-15% mark up is not rare. There certainly are cases where "pickers" will obtain a piece for little and turn it for a tidy profit to one of the dealers. Rule of thumb is to deal with those that guarantee their pieces as authentic for life and have the reputation to back it up. CSArms, Horse Soldier, Battleground Antiques, Dave Taylor's CW Antiques, College Hill Arsenal to name a few that stand behind their pieces.Two points:
1) If memory serves me, the news at the time said that the dealer misrepresented himself as the buyer's agent, thus according to the news articles, fraud.
2) All the antique dealers that I have met, as a standard pay only ten cents on the dollar for their antiques. That appears to be the standard markup. As the result, I would not expect to get more than 10% of retail value for anything I sold them.
I remember this story vividly because I was up in Gettysburg when it happened. George Edward Pickett V was invited to be the guest of honor of the Friends of Gettysburg National Park for their annual banquet in June 1998. When Ed gave his speech he made mention that he recently sold some of his ancestor's items. After the dinner Ed, upon hearing that Earl Coates, president at the time, was a Civil War cloth expert, asked him what a confederate kepi was worth and Earl asking if it was the general's kepi, told him between $80,000 and $100,000. Ed exclaimed that was more than he received for the entire lot, which included a bloody sleeve, though to have been part of the uniform Pickett wore when wounded at Gaines Mill. Cutting to the chase, Earl called the Harrisburg museum to see what was paid for the items and was told over $850,000.
Juno and Pritchard, using their fame as appraisers for the Antiques Roadshow had been contacted by Ed Pickett, for an appraisal, Ed who had been running from his unwanted fame, his entire life, had no idea what the articles were worth. He was told $85,000, which was two times what he made per year and though that when they offered to purchase for that much, was a great deal.
Imagine growing up in the South as a descendant of Pickett and the teasing you received, particularly with the name George E Picket V. He made sure that in adult life he went by Ed Picket. The articles in the chest were not things he was particularly fond of other than the photographs od his ancestors, which he refuse to sell. Pritchard and Juno said that they would "restore" the photos and return them. The CDVs that were returned were laser copies that Ed had with him that weekend in Gettysburg; they went over to the Horse Soldier where Wes Small viewed them under a Magnifier and stated that they were copies.
George Edward Pickett the Fifth was now ready for a lawyer and the FBI became involved. The photos were forged (copies) and returned to Ed via mail, we now have theft and mail fraud.
These two have ripped off countless individuals, in fact Juno tried to get a SC belt rig from me at the Richmond Show in 1999 when I was a very novice collector, Dave Taylor, rescued me and pointed me to Steve Mullinax, who verified that it was a real SC rig on original leather and an appraisal. He did not offer to buy it as Juno did.
I was honored to know Don and Elaine Patterson, through the reenacting community and being their neighbor, after Don's untimely death, Juno and Pritchard approached Elaine as buyers for the Harrisburg, PA National Civil War museum. They purchased a significant portion of the Patterson collection for the "museum" claiming it would draw reenactors to the museum to see the "Patterson" collection. None of the items made it to the museum and were sold to private collectors.
The collection, appraised and purchased by the two for $57,000 was worth as much as $1.2 million; they claimed many of the articles were reproductions and therefore, could not go to the museum. One such article was a confederate overcoat they sold for $80,000.
I believe Pritchard III is still serving time for subsequent dealings and Juno can be seen at all of the memorabilia shows as if nothing happened.
... If I was lucky to have anything directly related to my CW ancestors, it would not be for sale at any price. If I had something else CW related that I wished to sell, you bet I would drive myself crazy with research and pricing. (Then after all that may not sell the item anyway.) That's just me. I have sensitivities that run much deeper than pockets lined with five pieces of silver.
As a long time collector, I have found that for the most part Civil War dealers are very reputable..... Rule of thumb is to deal with those that guarantee their pieces as authentic for life and have the reputation to back it up. CSArms, Horse Soldier, Battleground Antiques, Dave Taylor's CW Antiques, College Hill Arsenal to name a few that stand behind their pieces..............
I've seen that show and episode before as well….plenty of blame to go around here…yes, the purported buyer was a shyster and guilty as hell….
But,….I have to place a whole heap of blame on George V…..He knew full well what his family's history was…he should have done his homework, and not tried to unload as fast as he could….He couldn't run fast enough from his family history…and that is where the real mistake / issue came from….His avoidance of the 'name', led to his haste to get rid of…as soon as he saw $….And only seeing $ is how and why he found himself in that situation….
It wasn't just 'family history'….he had a relic / piece of 'American History'….that transcends….and if he wasn't preoccupied with his own self, running from his family…he may have appreciated the bigger picture….and acted accordingly.
Funny how all it took was to stop running from his family name,..show up at an event he was invited to be a guest (of honor no less) at…..and ask the good folks there, what they thought of the items….I suspect that if he had still been in possession of the items, then….he would have been guided and put in touch with reputable entities….
How often does it happen that disputed items dissappear into the private collectors realm instead of being on display in a museum? Then the public ends up on the losing end of the stick because Warren Buffet's grandson it playing cowboys and indians in the backyard using Custer's actual hat and boots.This does happen, and it's a scam. Established museums often have it written into their ethics rules that they will not give appraisals on items, specifically to avoid accusations of conflict of interest.