In the world of oriental rug auctions and sales the name of the owner and not necessarily the importance of the goods on offer has been a paramount factor in the achieved selling price.
RK has seen this happen over and over in the half century we have been an observer, and right or wrong there is no denying the name game in the rug collecting business.
The coming one-owner sale at rippon-boswell of the Romain Zaleski collection is banking on this strategy, but RK is sorry to inform all concerned it will not produce the desired results.
There are two major reasons:
1. The name Romain Zaleski is not one like others, for instance Marino Dall'oglio, who spent decades acquiring only important Classical rugs; someone like Ignatus Vok, who spent decades acquiring important suzani embroideries and Anatolian kelim: or how can we forget to mention Heinrich Kirschheim, whose heralded collecting career produced tidal waves of respect in the rug community for his acquiring great early Anatolian rugs.
RK knows the behind the scenes story of each of these three men, and others who were stalwarts of the rug world throughout the 1980's, 1990's and 2000's. Zaleski does not and can not compete.
Compared to the tangible results of their efforts, the 162 lots in the Zaleski sale pale miserably. There is not one outstanding rug, flatweave or needlework among the bunch. Instead there is lot after lot of what used to be considered "collector" rugs in "german" condition.
Even forty years ago anyone in the know considered these mid-later 19th century Caucasian and Turkish rugs to be nothing other than classy furnishing objects. Made in workshops and factories by the hundreds, perhaps thousands and often sporting extensive recent repairs and repilings, these goods were the meat and potatoes of German rug dealers like Herrmann, Ostler and Bausbak, as well as notable Italian dealers like Halevim and other high end Milanese gentleman rug shoppe owners.
Now then, this Zaleski sale is the first of what RK has heard will be at least three and perhaps (probably) more. His collection is said to contain more than 2,000 weavings, and from what the gossip has for years claimed much of it mediocre with a few masterpieces.
Unfortunately for Zaleski and his partner Moshe Tabibnia, who has guided the S.S. Zaleskis cruise ship through the troubled and swirling waters and back waters of rugDUMB, the market for the type of goods in this first sale basically no longer exists, especially at the estimated price level the catalog claims.
Frankly, we seriously doubt if the reserves are close to the estimates boswell will have a sale percentage of more than 30-50%. No one wants rugs like these anymore, and it is wishful thinking the name Zaleski will light a fire under paddle wavers.
2. Let's face facts here early 19th century and older Turkmen, Caucasian and Anatolian rugs are the main areas of collector interest today and in the future as well. And none of these are represented in this sale. Also we seriously doubt Zaleski has more than a smattering of excellent ones in his rug closet.
The field of classical carpets is also hot but, obviously, their price structure limits the number of potential buyers.
Early flatweaves, Anatolian kelim and trans-Caucasian sumak khorjin are also hotly contested objects that attract passionate attention.
So where does that leave Mr Zaleski's rug collection's first outing on the auction block?
We predict high and dry.
No doubt Zaleski has some great masterpieces in that closet, however, we seriously doubt those will be showing up at any rippon-boswell sale in the near future, if ever.
In our opinion Znaleski made a two huge errors in planning this auction.
First the old adages "put your best foot forward" and "lead with your best" should have been recognized.
Offering a few outstanding, rare and wonderful lots would have been something that, as one internet rug commentator likes to quip, would have got the rug mob buzzing.
And second rippon-boswell does not have the large retail decorative rug clientel needed to absorb 100 plus lots of expensive furnishing carpets. Granted the sale will be online and buyers all over the universe could well become players.
However, we seriously doubt internet buyers will be players for this type of goods, again at anywhere near the estimated prices.
Regardless, its a boring sale of old school rugs without one stand-out in any category -- forget those of major interest to today's carpet collecting audience.
Better luck next time is all we can say.