Home > Auctions worldwide >Nov-Dec 2009 Sales here & there
Sat, Dec 19th, 2009 12:56:21 PM
Topic: Nov-Dec 2009 Sales here & there

Rk has now had the opportunity to view four of the five upcoming sales -- skinner, grogan and rippon-boswell and we can flatly say there is only one piece out of the over 600 in these sales that is even slightly interesting.

Why these auctioneers persist to mount 300 plus piece sales containing garbage airport-art weavings masquerading as "collectible" or grubby poorly articulated and conceived "decorative" rugs is completely baffling to RK.

We also viewed the Christie NY sale, the fourth, and while similar goods exist in their catalog as well to the contrary they do have a few outstanding and "important decorative" carpets on offer.

These are, however, not the ones Christie is hyping -- and we suggest readers take some time to carefully look through the catalog.

So far the December sotheby sale catalog is still not in our hands and as soon as it is we will be glad to dun or praise them as the case should merit.

Stay tuned...

Author: jc
Sat, Dec 19th, 2009 12:56:21 PM

The 'official' results of the rippon-bozwell sale have still not been published.

Considering it is two weeks today that the hammer fell on the last lot, it is not too far out to believe this sale was even worse than the last.

The antique rug market is very sensitive, and those who try to kite mediocre material with high estimates and reserves, as was the case at bozwell's sale, invariably now find themselves lacking bidders.

From what RK has heard less than 30 percent sold in the sale, and while some "after the auction" sales were completed, the final tally appears to be significantly less than 50 percent sold.

This happened, just like RK predicted.

Easy pickings for bozwell and gorgan are over and while gorgan has a strong auction business in other types of antiques -- painting, furniture and decorative acessories, poor mr bozwell doesn't.

Disappointing results have been the norm for his last few sales but those "after" sales always helped him to pull at least some burnt bacon out of the fire.

But this december sale was different, and the miserable percent sold in the room carried through to his after-sales as well.

We heard no matter how busy a detlef bozwell was on the phone he was unable to coax buyers to shell out for the probably 70 percent of the lots that did not find buyers.

And the maybe 10 percent after-sales he did successfully negotiate were at, as we have heard it, quite substantial discount. But even these did little to put a $mile on old sour-puss bozwell's kisser.

Seems even the bottom-fishers, who in the past were not shy to ring him up, avoided the place like a stray kitty would a month old moldy can of tuna fish.

As far as RK is concerned rugDUMB would be far better off without bozwell, gorgan and the other rug major auctioneers, whose cut of the pie is about 30 percent.

Long years ago RK lobbied, unsuccessfully mind you, some of our rug acquaintances to start our own auction. That way, we reasoned, those who have rugs could sell directly to those who want them and the money and buyers would remain in our hands.

But, alas, rugDUMB ain't called dumb for nothing and by playing ball with a bunch of greedy rug-ignorant blood sucker auctioneers they have made their bed and now must lie in it.

Perhaps there will be further, and far more serious, shakeout that will see one or more rug auctioneers bite the dust.

Forget about RK shedding any tears, rather we will be cheering their demise with french champagne and some nice tidbits to go along.

Afterall they do nothing but use the money of the sellers and pump buyers to pay too much -- a moke's game if RK ever saw one.

Author: jc
Wed, Dec 16th, 2009 10:18:22 PM

Comparison, like fire, can be helpful tool as well as unhelpful one in discussing antique weavings.

With that in mind, comparing the results of the 5 sales RK mentioned in the beginning of this post --Christies (New York) skinners, gorgan, rippon-bozwell, sotheby(New York) there are both answers and questions for RK and our readers to ponder.

Dollar-wise, but dont quote us on this, it appears Sotheby managed to move the most amount of money out of buyers pockets and into theirs and their consignors.

But in the bid-ness of antique oriental rugs, it aint all about the cash, well at least not in RKs world.

As we also wrote, there was not one champion non-urban rug in the almost 1000 that crossed the auction blocks during these five sales.

Yes, thats a fact, not one A piece in any of the category RK has interest Turkmen, Turkish Village or Caucasian.

It should be clear to our seasoned readers RKs standards are high and, while we recognize few collectors can afford A pieces, they could buy one if they didnt squander their funds on several, or many, lesser ones.

Its the old gourmet versus gourmand dichotomy the former wants a little taste of something great and the latter wants a plate full of something to fill the belly.

RK also recognizes most people collect out of, or on account of some type of mild, socially accepted neurosis.How many of these rugs that were sold were not destined for the floors of the proud new owners? RK would have to guess 20-30 percent at best, if that.

So the number of lots that were not bought as furniture is pathetically small, making these auctions, in the end, not suppliers of 'art' or ethnographic material but mere domestic floor-covering.

No wonder RK doesnt have much to say knowing what we know, who could possibly think differently?

Also, we must remind you, thats why 99.% of these weaving were made for commerce not indigenous purpose, even those that are now touted as collector rugs.

Like the 'print' versus the 'painting' analogy RK can raise, these goods might look to the uninitiated as art, or ethnography but in reality they are not.

OK, enough of RKs rug collecting philosophy but lets reinforce our main point here better to own one great rug, and pay too much for it, than to own 10 mediocre rugs that too much was paid for as well.

One last point before the pics and our take on the last of the sales sotheby.

Had a genuinely great A Turkmen, Turkish Village or Caucasian rug shown itself at these sales you can be sure it would have made a record price $50,000, $100,000 or more as theres a lot of cash laying around at the sidelines waiting to be spent.

Dont believe us? Watch and see the fireworks when one does pop up.

From the about 45 rugs that might qualify as collector in the sotheby sale, we picked what we consider the best.

Again remember our words about comparison, for the following pieces we illustrate and comment about are superior to the rest, but highly inferior to the best of their types.

The first, lot 1 a soumak bag, made $12,000 including hammer and premium:

Now 12 grand for about 3 square feet of weaving aint cheap, even if the weaving is 125-150 years old.

RK has never seen the archetype of this design type and that is why we dont have one in our collection.

Perhaps there never was one, but we are of the opinion there was and weve been on a 25 plus year lookout for it.

Were this the one, and trust us it wasnt, the border would be far more animated and alive (go see plate 10 in our Weaving Art Museum exhibition --Soumak and Kelim Weaving of the Caucasus which can be found in the Previous Exhibitions Archive) and compare its rendition of this border with the flaccid, flat two-dimensionality lot 1 exhibits.

The central medallion and field of lot 1 are better than its main border but they too fail to create any magic; they are well-drawn but miss creating that third dimension all archetype soumak bag exude.

Its a nice accomplished weaving well worth the price, if one is satisfied with less than genius.

What would the archetype have brought had it appeared in sotheby? Well no one knows but RK would have been willing to go considerably higher to get it.

We are not going to spill our buying secrets here, so all you wanna-be RK bashers, please dont start squawking because we are not going to go farther in explaining why this was not luna (the one).

The next piece RK chose for comment is lot 2, a white panel mafrash:

Since RK did not attend the preview, and sothebys former secretary turned department head did not list structural characteristics, we cannot be sure if this is Tekke or Yomud but we can be sure this is a middle period example.

Once again RK doesnt have one of these, nor have we ever had one that is an archetype. We have owned several but again not luna.

We will guess, from its "look", this one is Yomud, symmetric knotted, and not Tekke, which would be asymmetric open right.

But, again, theres no guessing this one is nothing but a pretty piece that lacks genius anything design, materials, proportions.

There's an interesting take on the standard main border, with its reciprocal stars formed between the de rigueur pincer pseudo-kotchak elements.

It sold for $11,250 (hammer plus premium), which is again a lot of money for 2.5 sq feet of wool.

However, had it been a best of type, that amount would have been well, actually very well, eclipsed.

These white panel mafrash, whether Tekke, Yomud or any other group, are derived from the far more exotic and articulated panels on tent-bands.

RKs research and instincts tell us there was, and might still be extant, the luna mafrash in pile that will rival any tent-band, even an all pile one.

We are also pretty sure it is not going to be Tekke, tho it might be asymmetric open right, and will venture a guess it will be an Eagle-group piece from one of the already defined or undefined types.

When it shows up RK hopes we are on the scene and, should there be competition, that competition had better be prepared to see a record price when the hamer falls.

Again, all you RK bashers, dont bore us with your whining about why we are not going to define whats wrong with this one nothing is wrong with it, it was well worth 11,250usd, but again it aint luna.

The thrid and last piece we chose to discuss is lot 9, euphemistically called Transylanvian:

Honestly, our brief comparison blurb is most applicable here as there was no Turkish Village rug to discuss, so we had to chose this mediocre late genre reproduction revival mess.

Forget about the ghastly old repairs and horrible rendition of a classic Ottoman inspired prayer rug, this rug has nothing going for it. No great color, no great and inspired design, no great weaving prowess, no great condition frankly it aint got nothingoing for it.

Naturally the price, $16,250, reflected its lack of genius, or anything else, including the foolish over-dating to 1700.

RK would date it a hundred years later, to circa 1800.

What would a genuine circa late 16th/early 17th century one have made?

Well, again, no one knows but RK does know we would not have been a competitor for it, as we prefer Turkish Village pieces rather than watered-down later renditions of earlier Ottoman court weavings.

All that considered, wed guess about $150,000, even in the condition this late genre period reproduction/revival was in.

So, readers who are buyers, mark ye well RKs advice -- save your pennies, learn your studies, and wait for the great.

And, remember those words of Hartley Clark RK quoted in our post More on Under-dating:

In the course of time I developed my taste and acquired knowledge (and decided).to aim only for the superfine. They alone are a joy forever and worth collecting. I determined the quit once and for all the ruck of mediocre and even good carpets not to touch them even at bargain prices, but to concentrate on acquiring slowly but surely the finest obtainable examples of the types constituting the group in which I was going to specializeThe true joy of any collection, apart from its intrinsic worth as such, does and should lie in the fact each specimen in it(self) is a trophy, the result of a careful stalk, as of a stag, secured by the final coup de grace with a minimum expenditure of ammunition. The rich man who acquires a collection, whether as a whole or by separate pieces, merely by the signing of a check is like unto a man who would have a herd of deer corralled for him to destroy with a machine gun. Such methods are too easy, and defeat their own object by destroying the value of the prize to its possessor. In collecting, broadly speaking, ones chief weapons must be taste and knowledge rather than money, though a modicum of the latter is practically essential.

Last words to the wise -- make Clarks motto your motto and you will never lose your money, or your face.

Author: jc
Sun, Dec 13th, 2009 05:05:11 AM

Rumor has it significantly less than 50% of the lots in the rippon-bozwell sale were successfully sold.

RK is not surprised, we predicted it and that wasn't very hard.

We also stated mr bozwell would be a busy detlef afterwards and we are positive, and you can quote us on this, within the first hour after the sale ended he was burning up the phone lines trying to negotiate "post sale" sales to any and all those whose phone numbers are in his roladex.

While we are sure about that, we are not as 100 percent confident in the following: few if any of those calls resulted in sales, regardless of the "discounts" offered to induce post sale interest.

There is no problem with the rug-market when one considers the parameters RK has mentioned, too many mediocre rugs and too few buyers for them on account of the present general worldwide economic recession/depression situation.

However bleak that is, there is in fact a silver lining to this: certain pieces -- those we mentioned earlier in this series of fall/winter sale predictions and reports -- are well sought after and easily sold.

But the very reasons for this liquidity and buyer interest is the simple fact pieces like those are rare and extremely hard to find.

So any prognostications about the "health" of the "rug market" are, basically, worthless as there is such a gut of mediocre merch on offer, as these sale well illustrate, no market analysis can change this obvious situation.

Will things get better?

RK can answer equivocally NO, they won't.

But we can also state as assuredly those rare pieces will continue to create buyer interest, and the prices paid for them will continue to climb.

They are the blue-chip winners, and face facts--they have been for the past thirty years and RK sees no possibility this will change.

Author: Here and there my ass
Wed, Dec 9th, 2009 05:46:34 PM

RK does not cover "every auction"

Learn to type and spell.


Really, you are covering every auction! How no one told you about thY famous gallery carpet in! Where? Oh you don't no where! Ok. I'll tell you in Alex Cooper. Hey you owe me one. Little kisses big hugs. Big hugs with little kisses. Pick your choice.

Author: jc
Tue, Dec 8th, 2009 09:08:38 PM

Three more sales are now complete - rippon-boswell, skinner and grogan.

Both skinner and grogan have posted official results.

But official or unofficial their results were quite mediocre, no surprises, no sleepers; just basically mediocre prices for mediocre weavings.

The sale room at skinner, so we have been told, was crowded, far less so at grogan.

RK imagines rippon-boswell's results were even worse -- regardless of the "better" quality mediocrities it contained.

Herr boswell is usually a busy-detlef after a sale like he held where many pieces remain unsold on account of their too highly arched estimates and reserves.

RK does still not know for sure if this is actually the case, concerning bought in unsold lots, but we do know for sure Herr boswell expends a considerable amount of energy, and phone time, trying to move those unsold lots at lower than the estimates for the consignors who do not wish to have their pieces returned, especially since they have to pay a goodly sum if that happens.

The sotheby auction will happen next week and RK is sure it too will not fare very well.

To say the market is soft might be too gentle.

To say the market is saturated with mediocre collector rugs and furnishing carpets is obvious -- to say anyone who hopes to sell merchandise like this at even mediocre prices might be better off hoping for winning the Irish Sweepstakes tickets, even more obvious.

If any trend emerged from these sale it would be only skinner's has the cliental, and a large enough one, to present 300 mediocre rugs and sell them at less than fire-sale prices.

RK predicts 2010 will be even worse for those who will try to move such pedestrian goods into the hands of buyers.

But there is a bight spot in all this soon to be shut-down market -- great, early non-urban rugs can and will preform extraordinarily well because of their scarcity on the auction or, for that matter, on any scene.

So will outstanding pre-1850 decorative furnishing carpets in excellent original condition, as well as period, pre-1800, rugs and carpet with provenance.

Clearly their scarcity, as well as the willingness of certain nouveau-riche buyers to accept shabby-chic "classical" carpets and pay what RK believes are foolishly high prices has not yet run its course.

Author: jc
Mon, Nov 30th, 2009 11:22:26 AM

The NY Christie sale is now in the book and, as we suspected, they managed to get-off all the "Isfahan" rugs with results that RK finds way too high.

In explanation let us quote a big name in the rug world who said the following about them:

"I do not sell new decorative rugs, why should I sell old decorative rugs?"

We agree completely and in truth those Isfahan's Christie sold, and many others that have appeared and sold equally well on the international market for the past 10 years or so, are nothing but 17th and 18th century DOBAG rugs....workshop/factory-made revivals, reproductions and copies of genuinely historic rugs.

Rugs of their ilk are nothing but old shabby-chic floor-covering for the nouveau-riche -- these rugs are not history or tradition, only commerce no matter what the buyer's high-end decorators say.

We did hear the mouth-of-milan, moshe tabibnia, bought several of Christie's Isfahans -- guess he, unlike the other big name rug dealer we quoted, will sell worn out mediocre factory-made 17th and 18th century rugs.

Ah yes but tabibnia has that big overhead to support, and as the old saying goes: "Any port in a storm".

And from what RK has heard the Milanese carpet market is as sinkingly down in the doldrums as it is in NY, London and Paris -- something we are sure mr tabibnia has been wringing those hands of his over lately.

Author: jc
Fri, Nov 20th, 2009 12:53:47 PM

RK just finished our look at the 220 plus pieces in the sotheby new york sale.

Frankly, all we can say is thank goodness there are only 220 pieces and not 400 as the quality of what sotheby's is trying to sell is incredibly mediocre.

Fact is there is not an outstanding weaving of any dimensions or made in any location -- to call the sale a must-miss might be too friendly....how about a must to avoid.

Rumors have been swirling around since late spring sotheby would give up specialist carpet sales to go back to selling them in furniture and decorative arts sales.

From the mediocrities sotheby's former rug department secretary-turned rug department expert has assembled for this sale we are pretty positive that it will be her last.

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