In December 2010 we published what has become known as the "Anatolian Opus" on RugKazbah.com. It tells the story of our interests in researching and collecting early masterpiece Anatolian kelim. It can be found here:
Therein we told the story of how we met bertram frauenknecht and some of the involvement we had with him.
It bears witness to what happened, something at complete odds to how frauenknecht now tries to spin the story.
Have a read:
n 1980 frauenknecht was a virtually unknown small-time dealer RK had met and quickly become friendly with at the 1980 icoc in Washington, D.C.
In fact, frauenknecht virtually moved into our two bedroom suite at the conference hotel so he could enjoyed the pleasures of hanging out with RK.
Those pleasures included great food and wine, as well as looking at and learning about masterpiece weaving.
We liked bertram (but eventually learned the hard way he was a Mister Jeckyl and Hyde, having a rather unseemly and revolting other side to the affable, energetic front he puts on) and we invited him to meet us and stay with us in New York after the conference was finished.
We honestly cant remember if he drove back to NY with us or arrived under his own steam, but arrive he did.
For a week or so he stayed with us, enjoyed our food and drink and, most significantly for this story, sat at our knee and soaked up as much of our rug knowledge as he could.
We can positively and 100 percent say frauenknecht knew next to nothing about historic Turkish rugs and kelim before we started exposing him to them, and he had his eyes and mini-mind well opened during the time we spent together then, as well as on the trip to Istanbul and afterwards.
We need not go into detail here but lets just leave it with the following synopsis.
When we arrived in Istanbul frauenknecht wanted us to stay at a small, out of the way but close to the bazaar, hotel called the Oran.
This was where all the foreign rug dealers stayed, and since frauenknecht had some years before made a short trip or two to Istanbul, and knew of the Oran, he wanted us to stay there.
Now on those former trips to Istanbul and to Iran frauenknecht had purchased pieces RK calls airport-art we saw many of them when we arrived in Nurnberg.
This type of merchandise represented what he knew about older Turkish weaving or any other type -- next to nothing.
We had asked him to come along with us on the proposed trip, which we discussed with him in NY after the icoc, because we liked him and his enthusiasm for rugs and also because he said he knew Istanbul, surely not for his rug knowledge.
RK had already, before we left America, researched the hotels of Istanbul, and settled our mind on staying at the Pera Palace Hotel, located in the Tepeba neighborhood of Beyolu (Pera) district in Istanbul.
It was, and still is, the grande-dame of hotels in Turkey, having been built in 1892.
In 1980, like most of Istanbul, it was not modernized but, as thread-bare as the carpeting and upholstered furniture was, it still retained that inherent luxury and location all great period hotels have.
It was RKs kinda place and when we rather forcefully told frauenknecht thats where RK intended to say he started squawking about the price.
We then told him he could contribute to the cost what he would have paid to stay in the Oran and RK would pick-up the rest of the bill.
Needless to say frauenknecht was bright enough to realize this was a great deal and he readily agreed.
When we arrive, RK rented a large one bedroom suite, arranged to have a roll-a-way bed brought into the living room each night, and frauenknecht slept there.
Of course since we were paying the lion's share of the bill we slept in the great bedroom.
By the way the suite's bathroom was big enough to put a ping-pong table in and the ceilings throughout the suite high enough to hit serious baseline lobs.
The next morning at breakfast RK met the general manager and he told RK the suite had formerly been where Mustafa Kemal Atatrk had lived in the later part of his life, and where Ismet Inn stayed during the armistice talks with the British after WWI.
The suite, as we said, was extremely large, on the first floor above the reception, with a fantastic view, as well as all the physical accoutrement the best suites in old luxury hotels offer, regardless of the rather poor state of the furniture and carpeting.
To begin to bring this part of our discussion to an end: After only the first day of visiting many rug dealers, RK had the feeling we were not going to find a rug or kelim to bag for our collection unless we were lottery lucky.
By the second evening we knew this was not conjecture but was going to be fact.
On frauenknechts and our return to the hotel after that first day of looking around we got into a pretty big and nasty argument, which had actually started earlier in the day.
Basically it concerned his disapproval of the way RK approached the dealers, large and small, we had met together.
Since RK treats anyone and everyone we meet kindly and openly; well, that is until their actions prove them unworthy of such politesse, that's how we comported ourself in Istanbul.
We also have always been extremely generous with information about rugs, as any longtime reader of RugKazbah and the Weaving Art Museum websites realizes.
This dissemination of our thoughts and knowledge of rugs, which by the way frauenknecht had been, and still was, a major beneficiary, irked him to no end, and he harped and harped, like a disgruntled woman, Turkish rug dealers were snakes, dishonest and unworthy of any trust or kindness.
RK told frauenknecht in no uncertain terms he could think and act as he wished but he should belt-up about how we dealt with the dealers we were meeting.
After the second day, seeing what was on offer was not going to result in RK getting anything for our collection, RK came up with a plan frauenknecht jumped-at.
RK would pick-out the best of the pieces on offer, we would share their cost, and then do a selling exhibition at frauenknechts gallery in Nurnberg and share the profits minus his gallery expenses.
As duplicitous and stupid as frauenknect is, he knows a great deal when he sees it.
So, on the third and fourth day we were together in Istanbul, RK picked-out about 15 or so kelim for the show.
But although frauennecht was silent as a mouse about RKs choices, he still continued to harp and harangue us for our kind, friendly and open manner in dealing with the carpet dealers we met.
Over and over he complained what dogs they were; how they did not deserve any kindness and openness; how they would screw us unless RK stopped being friendly.
That fourth night when we returned to the Pera Palace, and frauenknecht continued like a broken record on this tack, RK told him to get out of our suite and go stay at the Oran.
We told him to leave immediately, as we were sick and tired of his bullshit, and that he had to pay nothing for the four nights he had stayed in the suite.
At first he argued to stay but when he saw RK was adamant and not going to change his mind, he started packing his bag and knew the jig with us was up.
But before leaving, he sheepishly asked us Ummm, what about the pieces you picked out and planned to buy together for the show in my gallery?
We told him Theyre all yours. You pay for them if you want and do the show yourself. The only thing we want is to see you walk down the hallway and get out of our sight.
RK then proceeded to spend another month or so traveling around Turkey by car and when we left we took with us the one and only piece we bought.
The show at frauenknechts gallery happened about 6 months or so later and all the best pieces in that show were the ones RK had chosen.
The show and our picks, plus the lesser material frauenknecht had chosen himself, was memorialized in his little black catalog Anatolische Kelim" published in 1982.
RK is not going to spend more time discussing frauenknecht or the on and off relationship we subsequently had with him until the early 1990s.
But we will quickly mention that relationship interruptus was caused by the fact frauenknecht proved himself more than once to be a cheat, a liar and a petty crook.
He also proved to be a bird-dog, going behind our back and using our introductions to benefit himself.
The only honest thing he ever did in our direction was inscribing a copy of that little black catalog, containing all the kelim we chose:
Title page of "Anatolische Kelim"
He is right, RK was a friend and a teacher, although frauenknecht, like others we turned on to our collection and knowledge, barely learned a fraction of what he could have because his capacity for knowledge is small and his belief he knows it all large.
Any other questions?