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Re:Vok II auction
Sat, Mar 12th, 2016 03:20:53 PM
Topic: RK's post-sale comments
Re:Vok II auction

Call it a hat trick or maybe just starry-eyed bidding 83%, and not the 60% RK predicted, of the lots sold with most going better than 20% over their start prices.

We all know antique/historic non-classical carpets and flat-weaves have no signatures, no old paintings where they are pictured, nor any written documentation of any type to prove provenance, age, artist-creator, or even place of production.

Nor are there any other real criteria by which they, and their values, can be accurately determined or judged.

This fosters an atmosphere where collectors and investors inveterately rely on hear-say quality judgements by someone they 'believe' is an expert, be that a high profile dealer, an auction house department head, or one of the many present crop of pundits who have sprung up in rugDUMB like mushrooms after a rain shower.

Few if any of these, and you all know who RK is talking about, have anything concrete to prove their supposed expertise -- they have not written books where new research and information is published, nor have they written about innovative ways to look at the already extant body of rug knowledge.

Nor do they have collections they have assembled to demonstrate their taste and rug-wisdom.

The fallacy an auction house 'expert' will give expert advice is flawed from the get-go because none RK have ever known, and we have known them all for the past 45 plus years we have been on the scene, is anything but a used car salesman trying to sell the goods on a showroom lot.

As for the high profile dealers we have known over the same time period?

Frankly, we can say the same about them but at least they put their own, or more often than not some backer's, money on the line to acquire goods while the auction house expert has no skin in the game, nor do the pundits.

Never forget those high profile dealers need to pay their rent, and being high profile is not cheap -- it's expensive. So they too have motives and motivations that are not exactly condusive to impartiality and honesty.

Then there is the underbidder fallacy many auction buyers believe protects them -- it goes like this: Well at least someone else was willing to almost pay the price I paid.

This is a fool's zero-sum game that presupposes both the bidder and the underbidder know what they are doing, something we have rarely seen at auction sales, and we have attended far more than a 1,000.

Lastly, there is the equally suspect provenance of buying from a famous collection. Again this presupposes famous collectors only buy great things, an idea that at least in the rug world has rarely if ever proven to be correct.

So what this all got to do with Ignazio Vok and his auction?

Obviously alot, considering if those 88 lots in today's sale were placed in any other saleroom, without his name attached, RK will bet Benjamins to Washingtons (100 dollar bills to 1 dollar bills) the results would have been completely different, both prices realized and number of lots sold.

Anyone who does not believe this is either ignorant or a moron.

And had they been put in any other saleroom with Vok's name attached, we also believe the results would have been not as good as the rippon boswell result, but admittedly better than a sale without the Vok name.

Now then who the blast is Ignazio Vok?

Is his name known outside the small puddle called RugDUMB?

Is he famous in some other area of the art world, or commerce, or as a personality? Has he contributed any knowledge, or anything, to oriental rug studies?

Of course the answers are all no, he isn't and hasn't; but since rugDUMB has at its distant edges a number of wealthy collector/investors, who are completely besotted by the false assurance those criteria we have just mentioned allegedly carry, they turned out en masse like ants at a picnic to carry away alleged 'important' weavings from an auction like the Vok Collection.

Don't get us wrong there were a few worthwhile weavings to buy there, but many other far lesser examples sold for far more than their worth, or what they will ever again be worth.

We are not going to go lot by lot to explain our comments but we will admit we totally misread what was going to happen at that sale.

We are sure many of the really not impresive, or lord knows important, Anatolian Kelim were sold to newbe Turkish or other 'eastern' collectors.

We are sure none of those kelim were sold to old guard European and American collectors, they already own as good or better.

As for the suzani?

More did not sell this time than in the previous Vok I sale. Nor were the prices this time around as ebullient to the upside as they were in the last sale.

Was this sale a success?

Unequivocally it was for Vok and for detlef maltzahn, the auctioneers and owner of rippon boswell auction. But do not forget even these prices, except for a few of the suzani, were almost all far less than Vok paid decades ago.

Was it a success for the winning bidders?

While time will tell, and the always plausible next bigger fool theorem is never to be disregarded, RK will again bet Benjamins to Washington's not one of the highest flying Vok Anatolian kelim purchases will ever again reach the price levels they achieved in these auctions. And the future of the suzani market is only to plateau at best, it will not go higher from here -- the top is in.

Please remember we are talking about real money values, those measured in terms of commodities be they precious metals, milk or chocolate, and not in the coming inflationary dollars and euros that will undoubtedly soon be in everyone's pockets.

It is a proven fact rippon boswell has always been able to curry favor with a certain small group of trusting buyers and induce them to pay outlandishly high prices no other auction could ever match.

And today's Vok II sale, like Vok I, proved this is nothing to discount or ignore.

In closing RK has to admit we were foolish to underestimate this ' boswell effect' and the attraction a supposed first class collection, like Vok's, would have for these newbe Turkish and other eastern buyers.

But one sale does not make a market, and neither does another held in the same venue some months earlier.

The facts still remain anything but a masterpiece Anatolian kelim, and none of Vok's came even close, has been a very tough sell for the past decade and more, even at rippon boswell's previous sales.

The only place that's been immune are the two Vok sales, where lesser kelim were sold and sold for comparatively good prices.

Now, what does that tell you?

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