Home > Hot Button Issues >What's wrong with this picture?
Sun, Apr 19th, 2015 07:00:16 AM
Topic: What's wrong with this picture?

RK has said it for decades and heard it from many who are long-time collectors and dealers of antique oriental rugs, kelim and related weavings: There is something wrong.

Very good, great and masterpiece examples are incredibly rare but so are those knowledgeable enough to recognize, appreciate and yes covet them.

In most other art areas there are marks of makers and signatures of artists, and it is a no brainer to recognize a piece bearing a mark or a signature of a 'famous' artist.

In the tribal art world, few if any signatures exist. It is the same situation that exists with oriental rugs.

However, in all the tribal art areas RK knows about there is now voluminous art historical research, and over the past thirty years bodies of scientific evidence garnered from various tests that have the accepted cache and import of an artists signature.

But with oriental rugs there is little to any art historical research and basically no scientific data.

This is a major problem and one that Daniel Shaffer obliquely points up in the online review of the Vok sale published today on that rag hali's website.

Here's the most significant point Shaffer makes:"The sale was a demonstration that good presentation (an excellent catalogue) and above all else, good provenance in this case a much admired and universally liked collector, a man of charm and charisma with an artists eye for quality, who bought his embroideries and kilims from the best specialist dealers in the business are marvellous substitutes for the market magic provided in other areas of the arts by the artists signature."

His salient point -- provenance and presentation are everything in the rug game -- is well taken.

But anyone with a modicum of intellect would be forced to say "Why"?

Supposed all Vok's high flying suzani appeared at a small, unknown, out of the way, but extremely well publicized sale? Do you think, even if all the buyers who bought at rippon boswell were informed of this out of the way sale, the results would have been the same?

Do you think if for instance all those suzani came to the market in a regional sale like Dr Hull in Germany and instead of a fancy expensive to print catalog there was a simple typed paper list the prices would have been the same?

Do you think if all the suzani belonged to an unknown collector, or one who was not "universally liked", or someone who had no charm or charisma but the knowledge to collect outstanding suzani, the results would have been the same?

If you answered Yes to the three questions above you are in serious denial and your eyes are shut as tight as a barn door facing a coming hurricane.

In the rug game there is such a small amount of knowledge among the participants, regardless of the fact many have been at this for 20 and 30 plus years, it is pathetic. And it is this reason that validates Shaffer's comment.

Set and setting are important but when it comes to art collecting connoisseurship and expertise are far more important ingredients.

Without them one is left with little other than to "trust" the seller.

It's obvious Vok got ripped off on his kelim purchases, even though he supposedly bought from the "best dealers".

Parts two and three of his collection dispersal will demonstrate this as proof positive as part one did.

So Vok "trusted" and he got shafted.

Same will happen to the buyers at his sales.

Yes, ok, perhaps a couple of the very best suzani will, when put up for sale in the future, bring commensurate prices but the rest of them and all the flat weave never will. Not in an ice cube chance on a hot stove.

Rarity, beauty, connections to the historic roots of carpet and textile weaving are the significant factors to influence sale.

All of them require expertise and connoisseurship to recognize.

And until a real knowledge base exists in the oriental carpet game almost all collectors will be left with that one word "trust" as their sole tool.

And we all know how "trustworthy" oriental carpet dealers and auctioneers are...

Author: E. Koch
email: [email protected]
Sun, Apr 19th, 2015 07:00:16 AM

RK Replies:

Greetings Ed and thanks for your perspective.

Yes, it is unfortunate the cover of the book is more important than its contents. And regrettably rugDUMB is a place where this false premise reigns supreme.


I agree with the essentials of your premise.

I would, however, broaden its application. In most kinds of human interaction a creative and effective marketing concept will usually prevail over objective truth and reality.

Or, as Joseph Kennedy purportedly told his son, Joseph Jr., 'who you are is not as important as who people think you are.'

I can readily see that sentiment being applied to virtually any area of human existence.

Author: jc
Thu, Apr 16th, 2015 10:16:12 AM

Since publishing our review of the rippon boswell Vok sale, RK received two emails that tried to take us to task for our interpretations of the results.

They both were probably written by the same person, as we find incredulous within 24 hours of publication two very similar emails would arrive.

But no matter if they were or were not written by the same hand their message and intent far from discounts, let alone nullifies, what RK wrote.

Their trying to blacken and over paint our words with the big yellow happy face absurdity the results are good for the marketand for oriental rug collecting is both myopic and stupid.

RK already explained the buyers at the Vok sale would definitely not been as eager, or even, buyers at a small unknown auction sale if the same lots they purchased at rippon boswell were offered to them.

Nor would they have as quickly opened their wallets, even if they did try to acquire such pieces.

And if you think these same buyers would purchase such pieces from any dealer, the highest profile to the lowest, for the same prices wipe the sleep out of your eyes, youre dreaming.

So how, pray tell, is what happened at rippon-boswell good for the market?

The proceeds (at least 33%) go to an auctioneer who does not buy carpets and the rest goes to a collector who is retiring from rug collecting.

Therefore not one penny will get circulated in rug collecting circles. In fact at the least this auction vacuum-cleaned countless tens of thousands of euro out of the rug market.

And to think anyone who has an IQ above 80 could possibly opine this sale is good for the market?


One more thing: RK believes it hilarious Vok has been described by that rag hali, rippon-boswell's catalog and others as someone who bought with an artists eye.

This too is rubbish, as Voks artists eye was led by a rope to each and every piece he purchased by an expert paid to vet his purchases.

And charismatic?

RK met Vok early on and later observed his actions from far numerous other times.

This guy had about as much charisma as an empty cigar box, and were it not for his having organized and hosted several very lavish events for rugDUMBs royalty we sincerely doubt anyone would have ever spoken his name.

No, no the Vok sale is nothing but another unmistakable reminder of the fallacies and total myopia rugDUMB believes about itself.

Vok was just a quirky, eccentric, wealthy guy who realized his money could buy him notoriety in the rug game, and he pursued that vision for 25 years.

The simple fact he is now selling everything he bought, though he needs not the money and has plenty of place to keep his collection, speaks volumes as to just exactly who Ignatius Vok rug collector truly is/was.

Hes a dud, a bogus straw-man, who first went masquerading as a rug and textile collector and now as a generous philanthropist who is scattering his treasured weavings to the wind so others might enjoy them.

What hog-wash bullshit is this?

Were Ignatius Vok really a collector and a philanthropist he would have started his own museum, found an existing one to endow and to donate his collection, or just kept his treasures in his closet.

Lord knows, he has the financial means to support scientific study of his collection and that of others as well to enlarge the knowledge base and make collecting in this area more professional.

These, and other things we can imagine, are what true collectors and connoisseurs do.

Sadly what Ignatius Vok has done falls major leagues short of such lofty but accessible goals.

So where in all this Vok story is there anything good for the oriental rug market?

RK says nowhere, and anyone who says different is nothing but a blind stooge and one-eyed sycophant to the present and pathetic state of affairs in rugDUMB.

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