‘I made a great big mistake.’ Customers say they are owed money and answers from LI antiques dealer
Several angry customers are demanding answers from a local antiques dealer. People in four New York counties said they are owed millions of dollars collectively after trusting Vahid Peter Khorshad to sell their property on consignment in his Great Neck and Manhattan stores.
Customers said they consigned artwork, family heirlooms and other antiques to Khorshad, but have yet to receive any commissions on sales or recover their items.
Howard Becker, 85, said he was bilked out of his life savings.
Becker met Khorshad a few years ago. At the time, he admittedly was lonely. His wife was diagnosed with dementia, most of his friends moved out of state and his daughter lived across the pond. He found an outlet after befriending Khorshad and the two became fast friends who bonded over their love for antiques.
“I’ve been admiring antiques my whole life and the antiques he brought in were really very special and very impressive,” said Becker, of Great Neck. “I would go with him to antique shows and auctions and this was exciting for me. This went on for four years. We were buddies. We were friends.”
Becker thought he had finally found a way to turn his hobby into a business. He said Khorshad asked him to be his partner so he loaned him $950,000 to open two antique stores: Estate & Antiques in Great Neck and Sara’s Antiques in Manhattan.
“I would even work in the store. I'm very handy. I can fix some of the antiques that break,” Becker said. “I did trust him and I made a mistake. I made a great big mistake.”
When it came time to cash the checks, Becker said they bounced. He hasn’t heard from Khorshad in months.
In a promissory note, Khorshad collateralized his antique stores in Great Neck and Manhattan to secure Becker’s loan, but our investigation found hundreds of antiques in those stores were given to Khorshad on consignment.
Stories from frustrated customers started to mount.
Team 12 Investigates interviewed nearly a dozen people on and off-camera who said they consigned their belongings to Khorshad and never got paid—or their items back.
Kristie Zinberg, of Manhattan, signed a consignment agreement with Khorshad at his Manhattan store in 2021. She spent a year texting and calling Khorshad to follow up on her inventory, often visiting the store on Lexington Avenue. After months of back and forth, she said most of her items are still unaccounted for and that she has not been paid.
“All of a sudden, the fine china wasn't there anymore, but I wasn't getting any answers,” Zinberg said. “Then, I'd go in [to the store] and some antique champagne glasses weren't there and he said the dishes were sold, everything was sold.”
Steve Sussman, of Roslyn, said he consigned nearly 400 pieces of artwork to Khorshad in 2020. He told Team 12 Investigates that Khorshad at one point said an auctioneer sold $6,000 worth of items, but Sussman only received a check for $1,850.
“It’s on and on, week after week. He's telling you some items were lost. He's trying to get to the bottom of it,” Sussman said. “I said, 'You can either buy this stuff out right, or give all the stuff back to me.' Haven’t heard a word and that’s where we are today.”
Behrooz Hakimian, 80, can only describe it as a feeling of betrayal. He said he consigned 53 antiques to Khorshad in 2018 that he had collected from all over the world. They included embroideries, Persian miniatures and Russian porcelain. He had hoped to give the money from the sale to his daughters. Hakimian said he has not been able to get a hold of Khorshad since.
“I know that what he has done to me is nothing short of a con job,” Hakimian said. “I didn’t even get a penny for one item and if he hasn’t sold them, where are they? Give it back to me. I’m more than willing to pick it up.”
Daniel Roubeni expected his antique table to sell for $50,000. He said he consigned the porcelain and bronze table to Khorshad four years ago.
After waiting months for answers, Roubeni posted about his experience online and garnered responses from dozens of people with similar stories. He has been keeping track of other potential victims in the hopes that law enforcement will step in.
“The stories that he tells people, ‘Come back tomorrow. I have a check for you. Come here tomorrow. Come next week,’ but you’re seeing over time that it’s nothing but smoke and mirrors,” Roubeni said. “Then, when you realize that there's nothing to be had and that you've been taken advantage of, that's when it hits you really hard.”
These stories are only the beginning. Team 12 Investigates reviewed at least eight lawsuits against Khorshad in Nassau, Westchester, New York and Kings counties. They allege conversion, breach of contract and fraud. Combined losses claim to be worth $5.6 million for unpaid loans and unreturned property.
According to one of the lawsuits against Khorshad and his wife Sayeh Sassouni Khorshad, Kimberly Taylor consigned more than $650,000 worth of antique vases, figurines, decorative art and jewelry to their Upper East Side store Estate Sale in 2021.
A few months later, Estate Sale closed its doors at 968 Lexington and the Khorshads reopened their business as Sara’s Antiques at 1015 Lexington.
“Unfortunately, our client is well into this nightmare a year and a half now,” said Bill Brewer, Taylor’s attorney. “Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of valuables have not been returned and are unaccounted for.”
Team 12 Investigates tried getting answers from Khorshad at his Great Neck store. He called the allegations “false” and “nonsense.” He directed us to contact his attorney for further questions.
Khorshad’s attorney, Oscar Michelen, declined an on-camera interview.
In an emailed statement, he said, “My client denies ever defrauding any person or wrongfully withholding consigned goods. My client has a long-standing and respected history in the antiques and consignment trade. Due to the Covid pandemic, like many small businesses, my client suffered significant loss of business and mounting debt. That led to some entities and persons filing lawsuits to collect rent at brick-and-mortar locations or to default my client on loans taken out to try and keep the business alive. All those litigations are either being defended or have been resolved amicably. None of those matters involve claims of wrongfully withheld consigned goods, to our knowledge.
My firm has been in communication with two consignment clients who were inquiring about their goods. In one case we advised them that they are free to pick up their goods at the warehouse where they are stored and in the other case, we advised them that the item consigned had been recently sold at an auction and have delivered them a check for their share of the sale price. Any other individuals or entities who claim they have consigned goods to my client and want them returned can please reach out to me at email@example.com.”
Team 12 Investigates provided his email to customers who have reached out for help, but many of them are tired of waiting.
“One of the things that’s important by having you here and everything is I don’t want other people to get hurt,” Sussman said.
Some people have filed complaints with Nassau Police and the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. Becker is afraid their concerns are falling on deaf ears.
“I thought I was the only fool, but evidently, he fooled other people and unfortunately it’s not taken too seriously I’m afraid,” Becker said.