Home > Auctions worldwide >Rare Navaho Classic Blanket Smashes Record Price
Sat, Dec 1st, 2018 05:43:49 PM
Topic: Rare Navaho Classic Blanket Smashes Record Price

First phase Navajo Classic period wearing blanket, Moran Auction, California

Classic period, pre-1865, Navajo wearing blankets are rare weavings. Already at the turn of the 19th/20th century, when collectors like William R. Hearst of newspaper fame were after them, they were scare and valuable. Hearst paid 500.00 plus dollars for some of the examples in his collection.

Remember, in 1900, 500 dollars was a whole lotta money.

Since then these masterpieces of southwestern looms have kept their value, and since the middle 1970's prices have continued to increase for the best and rarest examples.

This is not the place for RK to discuss what makes a great blanket, and we surely know having studied them, and owned several over the years.

The Moran auction piece, which sold the other day broke all records for a blanket selling for $1,475,000.

Yes, one million four hundred seventy five thousand dollars....

The blanket had excellent provenance, and apparently was a must buy for two competing bidders.

Author: jc
email: [email protected]
Sat, Dec 1st, 2018 05:43:49 PM

For the past 10 years don "the con" ellis has stuck his middle finger up at the verdict and two dictates the trial judge in RK's lawsuit against him ruled and issued from the bench.

The judge commanded ellis to restore the Saltillo, do the professional research, and then use his best efforts to try and sell it so he and RK could make a good profit. As the judge ruled and decided these were all actions he was required to preform after signing our agreement that was ruled still valid.

To say this has bothered us since the trial is a given.

And while ellis was convicted of two of the three counts of RK's lawsuit -- breach of contract and violation of New Mexico's fair trade and dealing laws -- he got off scot-free. That is until now.

RK is exploring reopening the case, and we are pretty sure of its outcome if we do.

There is little doubt ellis will be found guilty again, but this time for ignoring the court's decrees.

BTW: There is an interesting story going around in American Indian art collecting and dealing circles concerning a 'letter' don ellis wrote and sent to a number of people. In this letter, which RK has seen, ellis verbally attacks, defames and denigrates not only one of his best clients, who was the object of this exercise, but also anyone who associates with this man, who is a very famous collector.

Using trash-talking metaphor and totally outrageous and vile language ellis not only made himself look like a jealous, sniveling, creep, he destroyed what little reputation he has among those in the business who actually know what a crook, con-man, perjurer and low-life donald ellis truly is.

Stay tuned for more

Author: jc
Tue, Jul 3rd, 2012 06:01:15 AM

RK has received several emails questioning whether our version of what happened with donald ellis, owner of the Donald ellis gallery in New York, New York and Dundas, Canada, is correct.

To answer those emails here is the article published in the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper after the trial finished.

The reporter, Tom Sharp, attended the trial and here is his article:


Judge: Mexican serape dealer breached contract

Official: Canadian must restore, research and market piece, but two should just terminate agreement

Tom Sharpe

The New Mexican

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A judge has ruled an antiques dealer breached a contract with another dealer over a Mexican serape that one claims is an 18th-century masterpiece worth at least $150,000, but the judge declined to award any damages.

State District Judge Jim Hall told the two dealers their 9-year-old purchase agreement remains in effect, making the dealer with the serape responsible for restoring it and researching its history to make it more valuable.

But Hall suggested the dealer who bought the serape return it to the seller and get his money back so there is no need for the two to deal with each other any more.

Neither party seemed pleased with Wednesday's ruling after a two-day, nonjury trial that included conflicting testimony from several experts in antique textiles.

Jack Cassin, a New Hampshire resident who lives part time in Santa Fe, sued Donald Ellis, a Canadian citizen now living in New York City, a year ago, alleging breaches of contract, implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and fiduciary duty.

Cassin said while he and Ellis were in Santa Fe in 1999, Ellis agreed to pay Cassin $50,000 "for possession of the serape," and the two would share in any proceeds from Ellis' sale of the serape over $50,000. Ellis also agreed to arrange for restoration and cleaning of the serape and for professional research into its history and provenance to improve its marketability, according to Cassin's complaint.

The complaint says Ellis agreed the serape, woven between 1750 and 1775 in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico, was worth at least $175,000 and possibly as much as $250,000. But according to testimony, when Ellis first offered it for sale at an antiques auction in New York City in 2000, he asked only $85,000, and later reduced the asking price to $65,000.

But the serape never sold. Cassin said outside the court that he asked Ellis several times over the next seven years about the status of "our serape." But Ellis did not answer directly until last year, when "he said to me, 'It's hanging on my bedroom wall. It'll stay there as long as I want,' " Cassin said. "At that point, I realized that nothing was ever going to happen." Cassin said Ellis later said the serape is in a Denver art gallery.

Ellis declined comment Wednesday as he left court.

During the trial, Cassin's lawyer, Randy Felker of Santa Fe, asked Ellis if he had lied about having a college degree in an interview with the New York Times. Ellis said, "A great deal represented in the press is greatly erroneous."

In his closing arguments, Felker said Ellis had never done any "real scholarship" on the serape, but only read one book by an expert in Saltillo textiles, one magazine article on the same and several auction catalogs. Felker accused Ellis of trying to sell the serape cheaply "to ensure himself a quick profit at Jack Cassin's expense."

Ellis' lawyer, Christopher Grimmer of Santa Fe, said the agreement makes clear Ellis had purchased the serape not that he had entered into a partnership with Cassin. Although the contract calls for Ellis and Cassin to share in restoration and research costs, Grimmer said, "nothing in the contract says Mr. Ellis is required to do anything."

Grimmer said Ellis met all his obligations to market the serape by putting it in "a beautiful catalog and displaying it prominently at one of the most serious antique shows in the world." Cassin's claims the serape is worth more than $150,000 are not credible, "given the obvious passion he has for this piece," Grimmer said.

Judge Hall began by thanking all parties for an interesting and educational trial. But he said going to trial was not a good business decision for either side. Hall said the agreement did not create a partnership, although Ellis clearly breached his contractual obligations to restore the serape, research its history and actively market it. After the 2000 show, Hall said, "very little was done."

However, the judge said, he saw no proof Cassin was harmed financially by Ellis' failures. The fact that no one offered to buy the serape for $85,000 or even $65,000, Hall told Cassin, "is real-world information that this item is not at the level of demand that you think it should be." Hall said claims of a higher value are "wishful speculation" and "wildly inconsistent."

Hall said the purchase contract, along with Ellis' obligations, remain in effect. But given that they "disagree dramatically" over the serape's value and "don't have a productive relationship," the judge said, "the obvious solution is to give it back and give him his money back." Hall told Grimmer to prepare an order reflecting his oral ruling within 30 days.


By the way, very soon after the trial according to statements from ellis, the weaving was sold.

And, not only did he ever do any of the scholarship or research the judges verdict instructed him to do "to make it more valuable", he has never agreed to substantiate who he sold it to or for what price.

Does anyone need more proof about our statements?

Author: jc
Mon, Jul 2nd, 2012 11:05:44 AM

The same day we posted don, the liar and cheat, ellis was the buyer of the Moran auction first phase blanket we emailed him with a link to our comments.

That evening we received an email from ellis telling us to remove our comments or we would "face the consequences"

We immediately emailed him back and told him to bring them on.

So far ellis, the windbag, has done nothing.

How can he when all RK has done is tell the truth about him and the court case we initiated.

While the decision went in ellis's favor because the judge could not award us damages, more importantly, the judge found ellis guilty of violating the Fair Trade laws of the State of New Mexico and breach of the contract he signed with us.

And no matter how hard don ellis, the owner of the donald ellis gallery in New York, tries to believe he won the case, he actually lost and the judge's decision finding him in breach of contract and violating New Mexico's Fair Trade laws is nothing eliis can eradicate with useless puny threats.

Author: jc
Tue, Jun 26th, 2012 04:27:01 PM

The other day RK learned the Moran auction first phase Navajo blanket was bought by donald ellis, a dealer who usually sticks to Canadian North West Coast objects.

RK knows mr ellis well. In fact we dragged him into a courtroom in Santa Fe, New Mexico some years ago for lying and cheating us on a "partnership" deal we did with him a number of years before.

To make a long story short, the trial in Santa Fe Superior Court lasted two days and mr ellis, his (former) wife, his expert, mark, the liar and cheat, winter and his only witness, Mac Grimmer, all lied their asses off.

In fact, they all should have been jailed for perjury, as RK proved their inabilities to tell the truth in court and in front of the judge.

The Judge's verdict found donald ellis GUILTY of two counts -- the first: violation of New Mexico's fair trade laws and the second: breach of contract.

But because the Judge could not get his mind around the fact a masterpiece textile could be worth many times the price of a "similar" looking, but not as masterful, one he refused to award RK any damages.

Therefore, since court is all about damages the verdict went to the defendant, donald the liar and cheat, ellis, even though he was found GUILTY of the two counts above.

Go figure....

But RK, and many others, know ellis to be a cheat, a lair, a grifter and a down right piece of crap.

By the way, donald ellis was asked the leave the Antique Roadshow and told never to come back.


RK knows and has been sworn to secrecy but we can say ellis's dismissal was entirely warranted and he will never appear on that show again.

Frankly, were we living in the old west we would have taken care of ellis without waiting for a Judge and Court to find him guilty of breach of contract and violating Fair Trade laws.

However, RK realizes it is impossible to mete out justice and remain inside the law, hence our dragging ellis into court and watching him lie through his dental work. Clearly the Judge recognized this as well...too bad that Judge was not a textile collector!

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