Reality TV star in SW Michigan

Published 2:15 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

It’s safe to say nationally known art and antiques appraiser Dr. Lori has seen just about everything.

The star appraiser on The Discover Channel’s reality TV show “Auction Kings” evaluates about 20,000 objects a year all over the country since 1998.

From $40,000 clocks to six-figure paintings — you name it, she’s appraised it.

“I always say I’ll break some hearts, but I’ll make some millionaires,” Dr. Lori said.

Dr. Lori’s next big find might come right here in southwestern Michigan.

Dr. Lori is the featured attraction of the 32nd Annual Southwestern Michigan Home, Garden and Leisure Show taking place Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College’s Napier Campus.

Dr. Lori will be available to appraise antiques and collectibles at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday and at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Each visitor can have one object appraised for free. Dr. Lori will appraise anything except firearms.

“Bring anything that you are curious about,” Dr. Lori said. “My show is somewhat of a comedic approach to antiques. You will learn a lot about history, a lot about your objects and their value, how to sell, how not to get scammed and those types of things.”

Living through the Great Depression and World War II, Dr. Lori’s parents instilled their belief in education and their appreciation for the value of old objects. Dr. Lori has earned several academic degrees in history, including a Ph.D. from Penn State University.

After years of teaching and working as a museum director, Dr. Lori was inspired to start appraising antiques after an encounter with a 75-year-old woman.

“She had recently sold an historic George Washington document for $50 that was worth $50,000,” Dr. Lori said in a press release. “She said she needed the $50 to pay her electric bill. When I met her, I thought, this woman could be my mother. Anyone could make that mistake.”

In addition to helping people understand the value of the objects they own, Dr. Lori loves meeting people and hearing their stories.

“We have some terrific folks who will bring something and say ‘this is grandma’s and she always cherished it’, and I get to tell them, well you have a half a million dollar Tiffany lamp, or you’ve got a real piece of junk and you might as well take it home and enjoy it,” she said.

Dr. Lori doesn’t always find valuable objects, but she said it does happen occasionally.

While at a show in Fort Wayne, Ind., a few weeks ago, Dr. Lori appraised an 1825 clock worth $40,000. A couple months ago in Virginia Beach, she evaluated a $175,000 painting.

“A lot of the times it is the objects that are overlooked in your home that you don’t expect are worth anything,” she said.

If an item is too large to bring to the show, Dr. Lori will review photos of the item.

This year’s Southwestern Michigan Home, Garden & Leisure show will feature nearly 100 exhibitors and special guests, and free workshops on a variety of topics from buying real estate to landscaping. Prize drawings, give-a-ways and discounts for products and services in many aspects of home, garden and leisure are also available throughout the show atLake Michigan College Napier Campus, 2755 E. Napier Ave. in Benton Harbor.