Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Priceless by Robert Wittman - A Good Read?

Having met Mr. Wittman in a Philadelphia court room about 8 years ago I really wanted to hate this book and by extension the author. Unfortunately, however, I could not rationalize my bias and found the book informative and entertaining. This does not mean that I don't have some problems with some facts that clearly were not sufficiently checked and some cheap shots that could have been avoided.

I was in that Philadelphia courtroom in, I think, 2002  as a character witness for George Juno. Clearly Juno broke the law and clearly he made some very stupid decisions. History has proven that his partner Russ Pritchard, who has had additional problems with both civil and criminal proccedings - the latter which sent him back to jail in 2009, was the bad guy in this Juno Pritchard partnership. This is a point that Mr. Wittman might have made considering the respect that I believe he has had for George in the past and may have for George now. Juno was an idiot but he is one of the brightest most talented experts I have worked with in my career. George Juno would attest that I have beaten him up enough for his past mistakes. Knowing what I know now I would still testify for him as a character witness.

Undoubtedly, the most disappointing section of the book was Mr. Wittman's comments regarding the Antiques Roadshow. Clearly the implication was that when Juno and Pritchard were caught faking a segment with a Civil War sword, the Roadshow was no longer  perceived as having integrity. In Season Four Roadshow  was seen in almost 20 million homes every Monday night. Now ten years later Antiques Roadshow is still the top rated show on PBS. Having participated on the Roadshow since 1996 I can attest that the crew, staff, and appraisers are professionals that should not be tainted by the selfish moves of a few. In my opinion this was a gratuitous cheap shot. Mr. Wittman elaborated on his own problems with the false charges he had to endure with the death of his partner. Undoubtedly this was a difficult time for Mr. Wittman and his family. While I would agree that the loss of life certainly trumps anything that Juno and Pritchard did, the broad brush used by Mr. Wittman does not mitigate the potential damage that could be done to folks that don't deserve it.

Having said all that I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to anyone. And I would enjoy learning about all that stories that for one reason or another could not be included in the book.

No comments: