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Lawsuit claims $36,000 Italian Renaissance clock was a fake

By KELLY NIX

Published: October 31, 2008

A CUSTOMER who purchased a $36,000 clock he said was advertised as an antique from the Renaissance is suing the owner of a Pacific Grove store for fraud, alleging the timepiece is a fake.

Theodore Vinther filed a lawsuit Oct. 21 in Monterey County Superior Court against P.G. developer and Holman Antique Plaza owner Nader Agha, contending the clock was misrepresented when he bought it in October 2007.

Vinther is suing for $36,000, plus unspecified losses due to his expending “significant time and funds to determine the clock is a reproduction, not a genuine antique,” according to the suit.

But Agha, who described the clock as a “very fine, heavily carved, very fancy mahogany grandfather clock,” said he never misrepresented it.

“I told him it’s probably about 20 to 30 years old,” he said.

According to Vinther’s suit, the clock was advertised and sold to him as a “genuine Italian Renaissance clock,” and that it had been purchased from an estate.

Agha, who hadn’t seen the lawsuit, said he told Vinther the clock was acquired from an auction house in Oklahoma. Agha said he never made the claim it was a Renaissance collectible.

“I don’t know whether it’s antique or not, but you have to be satisfied yourself,” Agha said he told Vinther.

Originally priced at about $75,000, Agha said he slashed the price more than 50 percent and sold it to Vinther for less than he’s suing for.

Vinther, according to Agha, looked over the clock thoroughly before purchasing it.

“I spoke to him only when he wanted to cut the price,” Agha said.

Though the clock appeared new, Vinther’s lawsuit claims Agha told him it looked that way because it had been refinished. “Defendant’s clock was not a genuine antique, but was a contemporary reproduction,” according to the suit. “The clock appeared new because it was newly made, and was not an antique.”

Vinther could not be reached for comment. His Berkeley-based attorney, Yolanda Huang, did not return a message left this week.

“We did not make any guarantees and warranties,” Agha said. “We have a sign at the front door: You must inspect everything, and all sales are final.”