Back and Forth with Robert Steven

It would seem that Robert Steven is either unable, incapable, or unwilling to discuss his bonsai pots and the sales of the same in any other format than in the public arena, namely on forums where I either can not respond or which I do not visit.

Considering the above, I will put my communications and responses to his words here, to keep the record straight and for transparency. For those who may be new to this debate, see my post here.

The following is an email sent to Robert concerning his pots and offering a solution to the perceived problems. This email was sent to him February 19,2011, over a month before I made it public.

“Hi Robert,

Let me break down the truth to you Robert, as a friend, which I have always considered myself to be. I’ve never spoken a harsh or bad word about you, even after you attempted to defame me multiple times on the chat forums.

1) My mother was in and out of the hospital for months, first with respiratory heart failure and then with a intestine infection that led to her having all her large intestines removed. This led to me living 200 miles up north in the woods with no internet connection. I spent weeks and weeks at her bedside and to be honest, your pots were the furthest thing from my mind. If I had to do it all over again, I’d still be at her bedside and your pots would still be on hold, sorry but my mother outranks you.

2) I came back to catch up on work, at home, and with bonsai to find that you accused me of ripping you off on all the forums. Yes, my friend, Robert Steven, who I spent long hours editing a book for him, for free, a book to which he, after all that, put someone else’s name under my picture. You, knowing my problems instead of communicating, called me a thief.  No big deal, I knew the truth, and I wasn’t saddened or hurt by the accusations, only by the fact that you made them.

3) upon returning and finding that you were dragging my name through the mud, I also found that all means of selling your pots were taken down, and that, thanks to you, any attempts of selling them were tainted by your false accusations.

4) Shortly after I got back, my mother went into heart failure again due to the medication she was put on and I went back north. When I returned, I promptly broke my leg, as you seen on bonsai literati.

Let me fill you in on other information you seem to have ignored. I have all but one case of your pots still. That’s it, I sent you the sale log and short of 4 pots that have yet to be shipped, that’s all that has been sold. So I’m sitting on all but one case of your pots that can’t be sold, thanks to you. I also had to spend my own money at first to get them through customs/freight,  yes, I also have money and time invested in this. Not to mention that for the prizes you donated, I have to pay the shipping out of my own pocket as well.

People talk about ALL THIS MONEY I have of yours, no, what I have is a lot of unsold pots, what has been sold doesn’t cover my expenses yet.

Answer me this Robert, how am I supposed to sell 90% of these pots I still have when you’re running around calling me a thief? How exactly do you expect to get your money for these pots? Do you think I’m going to pay you up front and be stuck with all these pots after you yourself have made it next to impossible to sell them?

I handled Vaughn Banting’s auction as well as many other events on-line and never had a problem, I can’t and won’t apologize for having to be with my mother, sorry, had I’d known, I wouldn’t have agreed to HELP you sell your pots and make a profit.

If I were the bad guy you are making me out to be, I’d simply tell you to fuck off after all you’ve said and accused me of. I’d throw your fucking pots in the trash and be done with the whole shitty situation. But as I know you know in your heart, I am not that guy.

As always, I’m not one to whine and cry over things, anyone can identify the problem, but real men can identify the solution….here’s mine….

What needs to be done, in my opinion, is….

We need to stop the on-line crap, it isn’t helping sales, what needs to be said is that everything is worked out, things were not as they seemed, and that the pots are available for purchase once again.

We set up a page or two where people can once again order pots and then you need to promote them, as I will and you need to endorse them, to counteract all you have said in the past.

To assure trust, we make the paypal address where they can pay yours. This means that all payments will go direct into your paypal account, but it also means that you get the shipping information….so you’ll have to email me the shipping information so I can ship the pot out and you’ll also need then to paypal me the shipping money (which is added into the price by paypal)  for example, they pay 25 for the pot and 11 for shipping you get 36 and paypal me 11.

In addition, I will bypass our original agreement letting AoB keep anything over what you wanted for the pots and let you keep 100% of the sale price. All I want is the shipping cost.

Considering that I have 90% of the pots just sitting in my basement collecting dust that are basically un-sellable now, I think this is a good solution that will resolve the issue, allowing us to sell the pots while earning you even more than you anticipated.

To recap, for this to work, you will need to un-do what you have done, simply say we have worked it out, things wasn’t as they seemed (I STOLE NOTHING), and that the pots will soon be available for sale. (This will make people comfortable with ordering them) We will put up a couple places where they can order the pots, with funds going to your paypal account. I can even put them up on bonsai literati which gets about 8,000 visitors a day now, I can announce it at AoB, and also send out notices to every bonsai club in America, and I think I can get bonsai bark to announce it as well. When they sell, you keep 100% of the price and simply paypal me the shipping charge and email me the shipping info, I will ship as soon as I get it.

This allows us to sell all these pots, it gives you much more money then you originally wanted, and it will help to restore my name and more importantly, our friendship.


Robert, for reasons only he knows, turned down this logical solution, which by any account is a win/win situation for him, he gets $11.00 more per pot sold, and he handles all funds personally. It makes one wonder what his real motivation and goals are in this fiasco, doesn’t it?

Robert has been reading my blog here and responding to it on a forum where I can neither respond or defend myself, so I’ll post his words here in italics and include my responses in red for clarity.

“Now we all can see his real character and attitude..yet he looks so dumb and stupid with his recent posts. After more than one year of all of his silly excuses, now he puts the main question as why I didn’t ship the sponsored pot by myself.”
Dumb and Stupid? Wow, now we’re resorting to name calling, what’s next. your momma is so fat jokes? I hardly think my mother’s continued hospital visits and her failing health is a silly excuse, but I suppose Robert has no idea of caring for one’s parents. Certainly it is an excuse, roughly defined, but one for which I refuse to apologize for or to repeat every other day. What’s done is done and if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a single thing.
The real question he seems to ignore is what do we do now? I offered a win/win solution for him to not only sell all his pots, but to also make far more profit than he originally intended (see first post above) but he seems to have ulterior motives.

As to bringing up the question of why didn’t Robert just ship the prizes he himself donated to the AoB Awards out of the inventory he had instead of expecting me to pay out of my own pocket for shipping when he knew I was absent….. It’s a legitimate question Robert, instead of complaining about me asking it, why don’t you simply answer it?

 “If he couldn’t afford to ship the pots I sponsored, why didn’t tell me from the beginning ? I had been offering to bear the shipping cost, but he never responded, instead, he kept promising to ship out but never did ! I don’t have any stock left, otherwise, I’d have sent from my side…”
Nobody mentioned being able to or not being able to ship the prizes you donated, the fact is, as you and others well know, I wasn’t here to do so. The only offer on shipping costs for the prizes was that I could reimburse myself from sales to cover the cost of shipping out your donations.

Thanks for stating that you don’t have any stock left, this will be used in rebuttal against another claim below.

“His statement saying he was initially reluctant to help as my agent to sell the pot is abusing and insulting. My first intention to make this pot was from our discussion on how to raise fund for AoB; we even once talked about organizing a penjing training trip to China, made an AoB store selling bonsai memorabilia..and eventually I came out with this pot to be distributed by AoB; and he was so happy with this idea (I have the evidence of this communication).”
What is abusive and insulting is the little, slight distortions of the truth, let’s set the record straight. Robert did talk of organizing a trip to China and he did make one mention that there might be some money for AoB, see this post. It never got past the discussion stage.

I first heard about the pots after Robert had manufactured them and already had the fliers, notices, and pricing done, I nor anyone else at AoB had any advance notice of the idea, nor did we participate in design, production, pricing, or anything else including the idea. As I mentioned, I reluctantly agreed to sell the pots for him, but when I agreed, I agreed wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm, doing anything less would have harmed the chances of selling the pots.

“Pine is right, he claimed as had sold more than 100 pots. He posted on AoB (Letters to The Editors) an official sales report sometime in mid-2010 showing about 40 pots had been sold. But now the related post has been deleted !
Assuming his recent statement of only 20 pots sold as correct, then why he never willing to give me the sales report and ship the remaining stock to an address in America on my expenses ?”
No, Pine is wrong, as you are. I said hundreds of pots have been sold, I never claimed I sold them. As you yourself admitted in the post quoted above, you have sold 250 pots out of the limited edition run of 500 pots, by my reckoning, that is half the production run and is indeed “hundreds of pots.” Even without the fact that hundreds of pots were sold, I still would have made my announcements sound like any interested buyers had better hurry, lest the miss a chance to own one of these limited edition pots, after all I am a salesman. Lol, what should I have said, take your time, no hurry, no reason to buy today?

The sales report and inventory (with photographic proof) will be posted on this blog soon, I won’t hold my breath for an apology.

As to shipping the remaining pots to another address at your expense…come on Robert, I spent 580.00 of my own money to get the pots here, I am spending my own money to ship the pots you donated as prizes, and now you want me to put up my own money once again to ship them somewhere else? We’re talking cases and cases of pots, hundreds of dollars to ship, can’t just lick a stamp and stick it on a crate…

“His further statement..”… to donate all the remaining pots to the local skeet shooting club to be used as clay pigeons…” is showing his attitude. Those pots are still mine, why he doesn’t simply return them back to me ? I NEVER asked him to pay the entire quantity because the our commitment was under consignment, he pays what he sells; and he knew from the beginning that he would pay the import handling charge and claim to me. Why he insist on keeping the stock and refuse to pay me ??? ??? …or maybe he had sold and got payment more than the 250 pots he could ship ????”
Yes, I have an attitude, I wonder why?

Why won’t I return them? Read my words above about spending my own money once again on your pots, I just barely got reimbursed and I am going in the hole again to ship out your generous donations, get real Robert.

“Let’s see what he will do…I will keep hunting him…..
What I’ll do is keep tracking down your accusations and expose them to the light of day. happy hunting.

(The above quotes of Robert are from Bnut)

Response 3/29/11
Robert once again seems to have either not read my responses, proposals, and comments on this fiasco or he is incapable or unwilling to understand my words. “…has proved his sickness and confirmed he will not pay me and return the pots to me. Clear enough…”

The facts are plainly documented above and in other posts in this section of my blog, I offered a win/win situation for him, that would allow the remaining pots to be sold and give him 100% control of all monies. This would not only assure that all unwarranted suspicion be put to rest as all proceeds would go directly into his own paypal account, but also allow him to make an additional $11.00 profit on every pot sold (over $2000.00 extra profit for him). I really can not imagine a scenario that would be better or more fair.

He recently commented

I also never said I wouldn’t return the pots to him, this is a complete fabrication, what I have said is that I will not pay to have them returned to him, plainly stating the fact that I have already paid to have them shipped here from China and I am already paying to ship pots he donated as prizes.

What Robert has effectively accomplished is to make it impossible to sell these pots, hence we are at a stalemate.

Instead of working out a solution that would resolve all issues, like an adult professional, he instead posts a reference to a crime I committed 14 years ago, not that this is news to anyone, Chris Johnston posted the same a number of years ago and Harry over at Bnut posted the same about an year ago. For the record Chris apologized for doing so and Harry, after having received the actual facts, apologized as well.

I expect no such honorable action from Robert, nor do I expect any apology from Robert when the photo inventory, sales record, and receipts are posted this week, showing just how wrong he is and how many lies were passed as truth by him.

Robert Steven finally is showing his true colors and it saddens me that he would jump to such baseless conclusions while refusing all offers to resolve this issue like adults.


Posted photos of inventory at


As promised, shipping started today and I am preparing to start selling the remaining inventory…



About Will Heath

Will Heath is a bonsai author, critic, literati, and humorist intent on dragging bonsai into the realm of fine art.
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