Robert Steven’s Reproduction Pots – The Real Story

I originally (somewhat reluctantly) agreed to a request by Robert Steven to act as an agent to help him sell some pots he created.

Robert had always been a supporter of AoB and he has also been a good friend for a number of years. I didn’t agree because I thought I owed him anything, in fact I had recently edited a book for him at no charge, a huge task which I enjoyed immensely, but which was wrought with after-edit mistakes which made most my work on the project mostly wasted time, but that’s another story soon to be posted here on my blog. Instead I agreed because the arrangement would hopefully bring some funds into AoB.

The original agreement was that I would sell the pots at $35.00 each, giving him $24.00 for each pot sold. I figured that customers would pay for shipping and handling, so AoB would net a profit of $11.00 for each pot sold. Money that could be used for contest prizes, donations to bonsai organizations, etc. Based on my success in the recent auction of Vaughn Banting merchandise and the incredible number of contest entrants as well as visitors to AoB, I agreed to act as an agent for Robert and help him on his latest commercial venture.

 My first surprise came when the 250 (out of a limited run of 500) pots Robert Shipped to me arrived at customs after a long wait. I had to pay out of my pocket $450.00 for freight and customs from San Francisco, CA and another $130.00 for customs storage and handling here in Detroit. Needless to say, I was surprised to have to start this venture by outlaying $580.00 of my money out just to receive the pots. I brought this up to Robert, who assured me that he would cover the expenses of freight and shipping, and to just take it out of the money he would have coming after the sale of the pots. I agreed and let my $580.00 ride, knowing I would get it back after 17 pots sold. ($580.00 divided by $35.00 each which meant neither Robert or AoB would receive income on the first 17 sales, instead my unplanned for investment would be covered.)

Robert then donated 8 pots as prizes in the AoB Awards contest, which was his right since they are his pots, however shipping and handling was left up to me. I was to ship these pots out of the 250 pots I had, I still do not know why he did not ship these prizes he donated out of the 250 pots he still had. I do know that I was expected to pay the shipping and handling costs out of my pocket and add the costs to the $580.00 balance already owed to me.

Then the bottom fell out of my world again, I will not dive again into the family problems that came up, or my mother’s trips to the hospital, a stolen laptop, nor my own broken leg and health problems. The end result is that shipping of pots, purchased or won as prizes stopped and all matters in my life were put on the back burner, the far back burner.

I came back home to a gross misconception that hundreds of pots were sold, that I somehow absconded with thousands of dollars, and other such garbage planted and fertilized by the usual few ignorantia and retardāre that migrated from BT to Bnut when it closed. I also found that Robert had removed any avenue for continued sales of his pots, placing the remaining inventory in status, until this fiasco is resolved.

(I have to confess, my first impulse upon returning and seeing the crap on-line was simply to donate all the remaining pots to the local skeet shooting club to be used as clay pigeons, however I didn’t think they would have been any more useful as targets than they are for bonsai. Anyhow, after a few months of mulling it over, I thought it best if I just did the right thing and clear up the mess.)

When I continue this post, I will show photos, inventory, receipts, and spreadsheets that will show that a whopping 20 pots in total have been sold, enough to barely cover my expenses.

more to come soon…..Meanwhile, for those of you interested in the ongoing discussion (by proxy) and other issues concerning these pots, please see these posts.


As promised, what follows is a photo inventory of the remaining pots. I thought about this for some time, as I suspected, in order to cover his own misinformation, accusations, and assumptions, that Robert would use any means to discredit any inventory I posted…so you will see below actual photographs of the remaining inventory taken with todays edition of the Detroit News, negating any claims of old pictures. Following the photographs will be a breakdown of the number of pots shown. After which I will then post a record of sales made and inventory shipped. The question that remains is if Robert will do the right thing, admit he was wrong and apologize as openly and freely as he did when he made these false accusations.

As we can see, there are 10 boxes of 18 pots each here, 17 loose pots, and 1 pot that was returned. So there are 198 pots total shown in these photos alone. There are an additional 14 loose pots stashed in the attic, making the inventory of remaining pots 212.

Sales/Inventory Breakdown

Total Pots Received                                          250
Total Pots Currently on Hand                          212

Total Pots Sold to Date                                    30
Pots Donated by Robert as Prizes                    8

Total Sales Income (35.00 x  30)                1050
Reimbursement to Will for expenses           -580 (customs and freight)
                                                                           -111.32 (shipping prizes to date)
Total Revenue to Date                                    358.68

Robert’s Portion (69%*) owed to date          247.49 (Still have to ship 3 prize pots to Germany)

*Original agreement was that Robert got $24.00 per each pot sold and he would cover freight, customs, and the shipping of the pots he donated as prizes. At a $35.00 sale price, his $24.00 = 69% of total revenue after expenses.

More rumor smashing truth to come….including receipts and additional photos.


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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