Skinner auction was started by Bob Skinner who was an acquaintance of ours and we can most positively say was one of the most honest and fair minded auctioneers we have ever known or heard about.
He loved antiques of all kinds and ran his auction with spirit and lan.
His all too soon death was a loss to the antiques and auction business in New England.
RK also knows the two people who have run Skinners since his death.
The head honcho is karen kane, a true bean-counting bitch who has never done anything other than make sure her salary is paid.
Later for her is all RK can say.
While kane runs the business of skinners Steven Fletcher runs the antiques and art side.
Fletcher formerly was the American furniture specialist, and still does add his knowledge to that department.
But now he is the face of Skinners, as kane rarely if ever is mentioned in the press or has any public role.
Fletcher is a good guy, rather meek, and always takes the back seat to kane's lead.
If you'd ask us kane should be shown the door and someone else should be in her position.
Today RK read the official announcement: lawrence, aka larry, kearney has been chosen to be the new specialist in the rug and carpet department.
We have known for some time the former expert, who frankly knew hardly anything about antique rugs, gary richards retired some months ago and until now the position was empty.
So now kearney will be there, and while it is sure he knows acres more than richards there is one big black cloud hanging over his appointment.
Auction houses rarely if ever appoint dealers, public or private, to their staffs. The conflict of interest issues are just too large.
And the fact kearney has been a dealer for his entire career bodes poorly for his choice.
Granted there were few if any other possibilities but better to take some new than someone who will now have to chose just where his loyalties will lie.
Skinner is a minor player in the rug auction business. Quite a large chunk of their former New England rug monopoly was bitten off by michael grogan when he left sotheby's many years ago and opened his own auction in Boston.
Time will tell how kearney will fare but we can say the competition for outstanding rugs and related weavings is hotter than it has ever been and kearney will have his work cut out for him.
RK knows many of the auction houses are reducing their seller's commissions, the price a seller pays to the auction house for selling his goods, and even in some cases dropping them entirely to get excellent pieces.
And we are sure ms kane at Skinners will be very reluctant to follow suit.
Plus Skinner rug auctions have rarely had top quality, rare, antique rugs, the main part of their revenue coming from selling mediocre middle market goods, often for quite low prices.
And the fact this end of the market is drying up will be another obstacle kearney will have to mind, and mind well.
We don't know, or frankly care, about the particulars of kearney's employment agreement but we do know if he agreed to a low salary and commissions based on increasing the bottom line performance he made a tactical error.