JEROME Eisenberg has the demeanour and boundless energy of a carnival barker that belies his 65 years. It serves him well. Perhaps the most prominent dealer in the world of Egyptian antiquities, Mr Eisenberg also spots forgeries in museum collections, edits a magazine specialising in ancient art, is writing an enyclopedia of Egyptian antiquities, while lecturing widely. 'I just turn on,' he said. 'It's been 16-18 hours a day work for the past four months.' Mr Eisenberg is visiting Hong Kong for the Art Asia exhibition this weekend. This is the first year Art Asia is featuring antiques and antiquities, and his Royal Athena Galleries is one of the featured dealers. Royal Athena deals not only in ancient Egyptian relics, but also classical - ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan - art objects, including bronze statues, silver coins, and marble busts. Mr Eisenberg's pieces range in price from mere hundreds to millions of dollars for the rare, museum-quality pieces. His customers include the most illustrious museums in the world, including New York's Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum, and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Royal Athena's crowning piece at Art Asia is a seven-metre section of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a 2,000-year old papyrus scroll decorated with drawings and hieroglyphs depicting the journey undergone by souls entering the afterworld. Mr Eisenberg's roots are humble. He began dealing in ancient coins in 1942, at the tender age of 12. At the age of 25, he switched over to antiquities, a love that preceded his interest in coins. Growing up in a working-class suburb of Boston, he became hooked on Egypt at 10, on discovering his mother's scrapbook on the Egyptian boy-king, King Tut. He holds a doctorate from Columbia University in Roman and Near Eastern art. Today, antiquities is one of the few hot areas in a rather stagnant art market, the sector is said to have grown 8-10 per cent annually. Royal Athena has offices in Beverly Hills, New York and London. Part of Mr Eisenberg's private collection is housed at the museum he founded when he was 33 years old in Louisville Kentucky in honour of his parents. 'I do believe it was the proudest day of their lives,' he said. Mr Eisenberg believes that all forgeries can be easily spotted. The forger, despite the best efforts will always unconsciously mix-in the prevalent styles with the ancient aesthetics he's trying to copy. He has questioned the authenticity of famous pieces like the Ludovici Throne in Rome and the Greek Kouros - statues of nude youths - purchased by the Getty Museum in the late 1980s. His condemnation helped bring about the consensus that the Getty statues were fakes. Mr Eisenberg estimates the statues for which the Getty paid US$10 million were worth US$50,000. Indeed, Mr Eisenberg is confiden of his ability to spot a fake. 'Show me a bronze, and I'll fight anyone on it,' he said. Although Mr Eisenberg will take risks in buying undervalued pieces, he says: 'Out of the eight hundred pieces I buy a year, maybe two to three are fake.' Alhough he specialises in Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities, Mr Eisenberg is 'passionate' about Chinese art, having written the guidebook to the Palace Museum in Beijing. 'I love Chinese bronzes, especially those from the Shang and the Chou periods,' he said. He will not deal in Chinese antiquities, because he abhors smuggling. He estimates 95 per cent of Chinese antiquities circulating in the West are smuggled out of China, coming from fresh digs or from small, provincial museums with unscrupulous directors, he said. The Hong Kong visit is Royal Athena's first official appearance in Asia, but he already has many clients. Mr Eisenberg said one territory millionaire 'owns a museum-quality collection of Greek vases and helmets'. Although collectors worldwide have always favoured art from their own region, Mr Eisenberg feels Hong Kong collectors are ready to buy classical antiquities from the West. 'Compare this Greek horse with the Chinese horse,' he said, beaming, as he holds two magnificent examples of bronze statuary. 'Now you can see the universal beauty of art.'