RK has received several reader emails concerning our pre-sale coverage of the Vok collection sale, particularly our predictions.
These emails claim RK was, and we quote from two of them, grossly wrong and way off base as usual.
We rarely answer negative emails privately preferring to do so publicly and only when there is something actually worthwhile to discuss. This is one of those times.
Although we will readily admit the sale turned out to be far more successful than we predicted, our predictions were not so far off base to be so dismissed.
Lets examine what we wrote and then compare it to the results to see why those emails quotes are nothing but exaggeration.
Before we do we need to state the obvious: Predictions about auctions are quite tricky to make, in fact they often prove to be a quagmire for those who try.
Basically at auction bidder emotion consistently outruns market facts, and buyers will act completely different than they would in face to face buyer/seller action.
Emotions are almost impossible to sense and therefore auction predictions are chancy at best.
RK surely knows this but our almost 50 years of day-to-day, 7 day a week, antique oriental rug interest and experience emboldens us to try, damn the difficulties and uncertainties.
We have not been, and are not, afraid to admit our errors and mistakes. On the other hand we abhor when we are wrongly accused of making errors that are not, or are way less serious than detractors claim. Such is the case here.
RK needs also to say we have recently spoken to others who have voiced the same interpretation our predictions were very wrong.
OK lets put those criticisms to the test by comparing our predictions with what occurred.
On Oct 30th 2014, six months before the sale, RK published the first installment of our comments on the rippon boswell sale entitled: Vok 'collection' [email protected]
By the way all the predictions we made are still online and untouched.
Here is a blanket statement about the sale we made at that time:
In fact, besides for a couple of masterpiece Suzani, the rest of the gear which will be hitting boswell's auction block in April 2015 is just stuff, surely not masterpieces that will be hotly contested by a sea of waving paddles and phone bidders.
A more specific statement followed:
We can also assure readers the Suzani group will do well, as there is an avid but not tremendously expert number of collectors for these flashy bridal "virgin quilts". Vok's Suzani are no doubt much better than his flat weaves, much better.The Anatolian kelim, along with the Persian and Caucasian flatweaves, will fare far, far more poorly.
And our explanation for this situation:
It is not that there are no collectors for these weavings. On the contrary there are many, however, they are far more educated and experienced in their collecting interests and experienced in their field. And it is for this reason their level of taste is far higher than today's Suzani buyers. Combined with the absence of any true masterpiece Kelim or flatweaves, and the predominance of OK to good material, we are positive short of either aggressive buybacks or a miracle of PR bringing John and Jane Doe to purchase 'furnishing' kelim and flatweaves for their floors RK predicts these segments of the Vok 'collection' will fail and fail miserably.
We then added:
Oh yes there is one more caveat to our prognostication: reserve prices. Should Vok throw caution to the wind and place low reserves, or none at all, then we are sure most of the pieces will sell. But they will sell for give-away prices, much lower than those he paid from the "experts" who guided his 263 wallet-openings.
Then several months later in three part series titled Euglogizing the Vok Collection the following appears in part two:
Voks kelim collection is second rate at best, and at worst not worth that second look by anyone who is a kelim connoisseur and expert.
And this also in part two:
Opinions are flying like geese after a shotgun blast concerning the fate of the Vok collection dispersal sale part one at rippon-boswell. Overwhelmingly they side with RK and not with the optimistic detlef maltzahn, who apparently will be in for a disappointing surprise if the majority siding with RK are correct and the extreme minority siding with him and his opportunistic estimates are proven wrong.One thing is sure Vok paid considerably more, we have heard at least 2-3 times the estimates, to acquire a majority of the pieces up for grabs on April 11th.
Finally we said in part two:
But considering the facts of this sale RK is willing to bet dollars to donut-holes the sale percentage will be considerably less than 50% unless maltzahn sells many pieces for half and less than the high estimates.
Thats it for predictions and before we do some analysis please note the following which appears in our post-sale review:
Regardless, fact remains most of the Vok Collection pieces sold for far higher prices than they are really worth today or ever will be worth. This auction is but another example of "auction fever" rather than real valuation.
As far as RK is concerned the best, rarest and most valuable kelim was lot 3, the Ottoman kelim. It sold for a ridiculously paltry 7,000 euro against an estimate of 8 10,000 that was in reality equally as undervaluedThe Ottoman kelim, lot 3, once upon a time was sold at Lefevre auction galleries in the late 1970s where it made, if our memory is correct, about 20,000 english pounds.
Clearly rippons audience doesnt know what RK knows, in fact the bidders on this lot and many, many others, proved to know little if anything about which kelim should be bought, and for how much.
Lets compare the Ottoman kelims price, 7,000 euro(all prices are listed without premiums) with the next lot, lot 4 that made 12,000 euro and you will see what RK can only call ignorant bidding at work. Although many would consider Lot 4 pretty, it lacks any of the attributes, which make a great, forget about masterpiece, Anatolian kelim.
Its nothing but a derivative weaving with no historic connection, no real captivating power or soul. And besides there are several far better examples of the type extant.Granted they were/are not for sale, so no discussion on that. But there is on the price disparity, ie, 5,000 euro, that demonstrates what we will refer to as ignorant, nonsense bidding. Note both lots 3 and 4 sold below estimates, something we predicted would happen throughout the sale and have been proven wrong.
We wrote this about the two best Vok Anatolian kelim:Lot 20, the Belikesir kelim was one of the only two Vok kelim with pseudo-historic significance.
Lot 20We predicted it would eclipse the estimate, and it did selling for 22,000 euro against a 12,000 15,000 estimate. The other pseudo-historic kelim, lot 48, also as predicted bettered its estimate of 10 13,000 and sold for 18,000 euro.
And this general comment about collectors of Anatolian kelim, or should we say lack of them, at the Vok sale:
Were there any real collectors of Anatolian kelim at the Vok sale these pieces would have made far greater prices. Fact they didnt proves our contention maltzahns buyers were not collectors at all but only open wallets there to acquire hyped, name associated, decorative kelim.
We admitted our error in the post-sale review with this statement:
It also seemingly proved RK wrong in thinking the market for Anatolian kelim was sophisticated. It proved there is no market for Anatolian kelim unless they are decorative, 19th century, in good condition, come from a collection like Voks, and are sold at a venus fly-trap auction operation like detlef maltzahns rippon-boswell.
Reading the above give an excellent picture of our predictions and frankly they are a serious odds with our critics who claim we were way wrong.
Yes, we underestimated the bidding that occurred for Voks Anatolian kelim in good condition and taking the results for only Anatolian kelim we made a list of their estimated price and their sales price.
Out of the 24 Lots 7 sold under the estimates and 17 sold above. But only 5 of those sold better than the estimates by 50% or more.
And considering we know Vok paid much more, a well placed rumor has it 2 3 times the low estimate, for all his Anatolian kelim the results take on a new meaning.
So how did RKs predictions do?
Any unbiased review shows:
1.RK predicted the suzani would sell well and they did.
2.RK predicted the two best Anatolian kelim, Lots 20 and 48, would sell above estimates and they did; Lot 20 sold for 22,000 against a high estimate of 15,000 and Lot 48 sold for 18,000 against a 13,000 high estimate.
3.RK predicted the apricot colored Anatolian kelim saf, Lot 59 would sell well and it bettered the estimate by 3,000
4. We predicted Anatolian kelims would far miserably UNLESS John and Jane Doe stepped up to buy good condition examples as floor covering and thats what anyone can see happened, as the best winners in the Anatolian kelim part of the sale were in good useable condition.
5.We predicted there would be no active buying of Antaolian kelim by seasoned collectors and apparently there wasnt.
6.RK predicted Should Vok throw caution to the wind and place low reserves, or none at all, then we are sure most of the pieces will sell. But they will sell for give-away prices, much lower than those he paid from the "experts" who guided his 263 wallet-openings. And this also came to pass, as most Anatolian kelim did sell for considerably less than what he paid and the best ones went for giveaway prices.
7. Finally we were wrong about this "But considering the facts of this sale RK is willing to bet dollars to donut-holes the sale percentage will be considerably less than 50% unless maltzahn sells many pieces for half and less than the high estimates." OK we missed there by a long shot but do not forget in our favor is the fact we wrote Vok would lose money on every Anatolian kelim sold at the sale, and he did.
Here is the list of the Anatolian kelim lots, their estimates and hammer sale prices in euro without buyers premiums added.
1. Lot 3 8,000 10,000 sold 7,000
2. Lot 4 15,000 18,000 sold 12,000
3. Lot 10 4,5000 5,500 sold 7,500
4. Lot 11 3,000 3,700 sold 3,750
5. Lot 12 12,000 15,000 sold 10,000
6. Lot 19 q,000 1,300 sold 2,600
7. Lot 20 12,000 15,000 sold 22,000
8. Lot 37 6,000 7,500 sold 8,500
9. Lot 38 3,400 4,500 sold 5,500
10. Lot 39 14,000 18,000 UNSOLD
11. Lot 40 9,000 12,000 sold 9,500
12. Lot 41 10,000 13,000 sold 9,500
13. Lot 48 10,000 13,000 sold 18,000
14. Lot 49 3,000 4,000 sold 14,000
15. Lot 50 1,800 2,400 sold 3,400
16. Lot 51 3,000 -3,600 sold 4,400
17. Lot 52 8,000 10,000 sold 14,000
18. Lot 59 12,000 15,000 sold 18,000
19. Lot 60 6,000 8,000 sold 22,000
20. Lot 61 7,000 9,000 sold 12,000
21. Lot 72 8,000 10, 000 sold 13,000
22. Lot 74 20,000 25,000 sold 18,000
23. Lot 77 2,500 3,500 sold 7,200
24. Lot 78 12,000 15,000 sold 13,000