The portion of the hali website devoted to what's happening in rugdom is often a sleepy affair, with the hali staff not very regularly posting informative reports there.
However, of late, they have been trying to increase readership of their website (we have heard this from a reliable source) and have put some additional, and well needed, effort into this section.
Probably their main motivation can be ascribed to the fact their subscription based hard-copy magazine has been loosing readership for years and, with the present dismal dollar to pound/euro exchange, we are sure defections will continue, and increase, due to price concerns.
RK is usually amused, and sometime astounded, by hali's penchant to re-write history and/or to present their personal version of it like it was fact and reality.
Sorry, boys, but even though many in, or is it most of, rugdom believes what you write, others like RK don't, as we have enough knowledge and perspective to see when you are engaged in such duplicitous pursuits.
Plus, history/time has a way of exposing such activities and your past efforts have already been well documented, as will your future ones, too, be exposed by the passage of time.
RK also should say our efforts have shed quite a bit of light on this, so, face it boys, you all are not exactly getting away with this type of BS reportage.
Today's articles continue to present this picture and we would like to take a few minutes to shine our flashlight beam on one of them.
Entitled "Grogan's Finest" and scribbled by London carpet dealer Aaron Nejad, this paean to michael grogan's supposed rug savvy is revisionist, deceptively so.
Sure, hali and their writer Nejad, are not being as slippery and dishonest as dodds was in pawning off the bogus "bellini" on LACMA but, still, this report is not factual, nor is it presented without bias.
Let's now take a good look at some of what Nejad presents as fact that RK sees as hype and nonsense: "Specialist antique carpet sales of genuine merit, currently confined to the major auction houses and a handful of independent salerooms, are an increasing rarity in the international calendar. It was therefore refreshing to see the Massachusetts-based fine art auctioneers, Grogan & Company, follow up their highly successful sale during ACOR in April 2006 with an interesting and eclectic collection for their sale on 10 December 2007."
While what Nejad states in the first sentence is factual, it begs the real issue here: Why are these specialist sales so rare?
In fact Nejads mentioning this, and then dropping it like the ant covered corn dog it really is, totally supports RK contentions about rugdoms almost complete lack of genuine academics, dealer honesty, peer review, etc.
These factors, along with others we are not going to bother to mention, are the same reasons Nejad mentions but refused to discuss this in any depth or with any intelligence.
Their President and Chief Auctioneer, Michael Grogan, whose early career included time at the SNY carpet department, clearly has an eye, and among the 160-odd lots were several attractive items with tempting estimates.
Again anyone with knowledge of the rug world knows what Nejad is boasting here is BS.
Stating that grogans early career included time at the SNY carpet department is, of course, true but entirely misleading.
Fact: the only other significant place grogan worked in the art world, besides his auction house, was at sothebys carpet department.
This is, and was, the entire extent of grogans early career, as grogan left sothebys to directly establish his own auction house in Boston and is still running that saleroom today, although he did move from an expensive high end location near the center city Boston to a far cheaper, and down-market, suburban warehouse location.
So anyone reading Nejads paean to grogan would surely not realize how deceptively Nejad presents gorgans CV. And thats not all.
According to Grogan, the eighteen month hiatus between the previous auction and this one had given him ample time to accumulate many items from good private estates.
True, also, but Nejad does not mention that in that eighteen month hiatus some of the rugs grogan found were purchased by him and run thru his sales.
Nice payday for grogan(sales price plus commission), and legal (in the state of Mass. it is legal for an auctioneer to own the goods, and not declare this ownership, when selling them).
RK knows grogan does this for a fact.
We are not only presenting rug-world in-group gossip, which by the way also knows this is fact.
Does Nejad or editors at hali know this?
Well, probably if RK does, they do too. But, should that not be the case, let this mention on RugKazbah.com serve as notice to them that this is true.
Indeed, one of the top lots in the sale, the Persian Garden Carpet (Lot 65, $80,500) pictured on the cover of the catalogue, had come from the collection of the late art scholar Carroll Wales.
OK, but how many other lots were grogans or other dealer consignments that have for eons not seen the floor of a private owner or estate?
Nejad is clearly trying to paint a picture here that might be called abstract at best, surely it is not realistic.
But, at least for RK, fact remains it is the rug and not the owner that is important. But if an auctioneer steers clients to his own goods, RK would like to ask: Is that acceptable?
RK says no.
Back to Nejads cross-eyed views of the grogan sale.Also keenly contested were several good Caucasian rugs from the second half of the 19th century. One of the best was a mint condition yellow ground Shirvan prayer rug (Lot 62, $80,500) which received a great deal of publicity before the auction and achieved a remarkably strong selling price. Although some of the colours were wonderful, including the saturated golden yellow and a wonderful aubergine, the drawing was a little stiff, and in the flesh the rug lacked harmony.
The price the yellow prayer rug made was ridiculous. Period. And how hali and Nejad could not come down and state that is but another highly questionable aspect of this review.
Plus to say the rug was a little stiff is a gross mis- and under-statement. But it is obvious to us such soft critique/criticism was framed, and mentioned, only to help the hapless buyer avoid buyers remorse.
Or was it to help the buyer in his efforts to re-sell it at a profit?
Whatever the reason, it pales compared to the next comment about the rug that dribbled from Nejads pen: and in the flesh the rug lacked harmony.
Harmony? Come on now, boys, shouldnt a specialist magazine like hali, and a supposed rug expert reviewer, be able to be more descriptive than that?
Using such a meaningless word, like harmony, demonstrates in spades what RK has been stating for years: Rugdom is in sad shape and hali is leading the charge.
Nejad then goes on to praise the other high flying, price-wise, mid-century Caucasian rug grogan managed to sell for way, way too much money.
On the other hand another fine Shirvan rug, Lot 79c ($80,500), this time with a stunning light blue field had both colour balance and beauty. The repeating double-headed field motif suggested a primitive ancestry while the borders were excellently drawn. This rug positively leapt from the wall and deserved its high selling price.
H-E-L-L-O Nejad and your hali masters: The rugs field was charming, regardless of the primitive ancestry its field pattern might seem to have held for Nejad.
However, the borders, which Nejad claims were excellently drawn fall far, far, short of such praise, or any, according to RK.
In fact the borders dragged the brilliance of the colors and well-articulated field design into a semi-mediocrity we find distracting and ungainly.
This is surely something one does not want to see in a mid-19th century Caucasian rug that sold for 80,000 dollars(no matter how weak the dollar is presently).
We could go on commenting on the major happy face Nejads happy talker review evinces but our time is short and we believe we have, once more for the umpteenth time, demonstrated how halis reportage is prejudiced, often times to a quotient that turns it into publicity not unbiased news or reportage.
Need we also say unprofessional and amateurish as well?