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Thursday, February 26, 2004 - Page updated at 6:33 p.m. Pacific
The Seattle Times purchased 2 'antique' ceramics at Thesaurus Fine Arts and sent them to be authenticated by world experts
Situated among some of Seattle's top art galleries, Thesaurus Fine Arts looks like the real thing. But Asian art experts say many of its antiquities are obviously fake: "one of those too-good-to-be-true things," said a former curator of Asian art for the Seattle Art Museum.
Buyer beware: All is not as advertised at Asian antiquities dealer
To the eyes of tourists and window-shoppers, Thesaurus Fine Arts' wares may seem striking in their age and beauty. To the eyes of experts, however, they are something quite different. [12:00 a.m. Jan. 26, 2003]
Test to determine age in ceramics is not foolproof - or scamproof
Thermoluminescence, or TL, testing is a way of measuring radiation damage in solid material. In the art world, TL is a way to establish the authenticity of fired-clay objects. [12:00 a.m. Jan. 26, 2003]
Eminent economist tied to fake antiques
Hollywood Road is lined with more than 200 stores selling Chinese antiques and curios, or curios purported to be antiques. [12:00 a.m. Jan. 27, 2003]

Related stories:

Fake antiques are a tradition in China
Every year, a flashy array of fake Chinese antiquities enters the global marketplace — from tawdry souvenir-shop reproductions to brilliantly executed masterpieces that curators call "scary." [12:00 a.m. Jan. 27, 2003]
State attorney general to investigate antiques store
The Washington state attorney general's office is investigating a Pioneer Square art gallery following a Seattle Times report questioning the authenticity of items that were sold as Chinese antiques. [12:00 a.m. Jan. 28, 2003]
Economist tied to fake art faces tax charges
A prominent economist whose Seattle art gallery was exposed for selling fake Chinese antiques now faces federal tax-fraud charges and a state investigation of the gallery. [12:00 a.m. Jan. 29, 2003]

Thesaurus becomes synonym for 'fake': More gallery items checked; none appear legit
Last week, some unhappy Thesaurus customers met with a former Seattle Art Museum curator who evaluated 17 Chinese antiques purchased from Thesaurus, many at steep discounts. His expert opinion: The pieces were all fakes. [12:00 a.m. Feb. 9, 2003]

Related stories:

Cheungs, citing bias, to ignore court date
A well-known economist facing U.S. federal tax-evasion charges said yesterday he will not return to the U.S. for his arraignment. [12:00 a.m. Feb. 18, 2003]
Cheungs on lam in China; arrest warrants issued
Steven Ng Sheong Cheung, the renowned economist who taught at the University of Washington for 13 years, and his wife, Linda Su Cheung, are now fugitives in China, having failed to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle yesterday to face tax-evasion charges. [12:00 a.m. Feb. 21, 2003]
Thesaurus scandal tars art-gallery scene
For Asian art dealers, the ethics of the art trade have been a hot-button topic since a Seattle Times investigation exposed a Pioneer Square gallery for selling fake Chinese antiquities. [12:00 a.m. Feb. 23, 2003]
Ex-UW prof reportedly plans to stay in China to avoid arrest
A former University of Washington economics professor who is accused of evading U.S. income taxes and selling phony antiques plans to stay in China indefinitely to avoid arrest and extradition, a business colleague says. [12:00 a.m. Aug. 7, 2003]
Art dealers face consumer-fraud charges
Attorney General Christine Gregoire filed consumer-fraud charges yesterday against the owners of Thesaurus Fine Arts, a defunct Seattle store known to sell phony Asian antiquities.  [12:00 a.m. Feb. 27, 2004]

About the "Tang" pot
Tang Pot
Thesaurus says teapot is from Tang Dynasty (115K PDF)
City University of Hong Kong lab says teapot is over 1,200 years old (281K PDF)
Oxford lab says teapot is less than 100 years old (224K PDF)
Daybreak lab says teapot is less than 45 years old (280K PDF)
spacer spacer spacer About the "Ming" tile
Ming tile
Adsigno lab says tile is 400-600 years old (76K PDF)
Oxford lab says tile is modern, less than 100 years old (210K PDF)
Daybreak lab says it is modern (less than 130 years old) (375K PDF)

Today Archive

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eBay auctions by Thesaurus Fine Arts
Thesaurus Fine Arts ceramic dating guide from "Steve Cheung, Advisor" (181K PDF)
Seattle's largest law firm threatens to sue dealers who question Thesaurus antiques, Jan. 2002 (82K PDF)


· Oxford Authentication
· Daybreak FAQ on fakes
· Po Lau Leung, City University of Hong Kong TL lab
· Lab testing equipment sold to Prof. Cheung (Page 3: Adsigno was then named Gold Forest Laboratory) (212K PDF)
· "The Limits of TL", Archaeology Magazine, Jan.-Feb. 2001


· Steven Cheung speech at 2002 IBM Forum: "Breathing New Life into Hong Kong" (Click on "play" to view 28-minute video clip.)
· People's Daily, Beijing: Cheung likely to get Nobel Prize in Economics (May 19, 2002) home
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