Home > LACMA's Questionable Rug Purchase >LACMA Update
Thu, Aug 4th, 2005 06:16:21 AM
Topic: LACMA Update

Today we had the pleasure of speaking with Sharon Takeda, the curator in charge of the Costume and Textile Dept. Although her department was in theory responsible for the "rugs" purchase actually, the only reason dodds's rug was chosen was because of dale gluckman -- Takeda and the others in the department being in fact innocent bystanders.

Now gluckman is gone and the legacy she hoped to leave by championing the "rug" destroyed by the facts. We were told the intensive dye analysis, which we hope to soon read, and carbon-dating, which interests us not, is being done by Arizona (carbon dating) and the Getty in conjunction with J. Wouters(dye analysis).

So this time around it seems LACMA has chosen the right consultants and when it's over the rug will go back to dodds.

There are a number of possible scenarios this reality will produce - all of them a lose-lose situation for both LACMA and dodds. There is one possibility, though, that allows them both to walk away as winners and we'd hope it will out.

The only way is for dodds to state: "Since there is so much controversy about this rug I will gladly take it back and refund the Museum's purchase price."

He then gets to look like the big man and LACMA gets the opportunity to thank him by taking him up on it.

Oh, were life only so co-operative. But since we know dodds long enough to know he's not bright enough to come to such a solution himself and, even worse in our eyes, too pompous to admit it's what he should do -- that’ll be that for that.

Anyway, stay tuned for the story ain't over yet – remember that fat lady ain't piped yet.

Author: jc
Sun, Jul 17th, 2005 04:06:14 PM

Hi Robert: Your questions are as excellent as your post. Congratulations and please do post here whenever you want!

First let’s state: RK cannot answer your queries with anything but an emphatic "We Agree".

However, LACMA seems to feel by doing these tests something positive might come out that will make them feel more secure about the piece...or, perhaps, the results will make them feel more insecure.

Since we do not put any weight behind the use of carbon-dating for any non-archaeological material - and then only for material that has been scientifically extracted and protected from contamination - let's leave the C14 issue aside.

As for dye testing and your database comments? Well, since Jan Wouters is, according to LACMA, conducting the dye analysis there might be something that will be discovered. Wouters is rumored to have created a large, proprietary database of dyestuff results from his extensive testing experiences. In fact it is supposedly the best extant, and if that is true (we believe it is) then the results of the analysis of the rug he is running could be compared to that database of samples.

Needless to say, even with that caveat we don't feel LACMA will be, in reality, any more in the know about dodds's dud when the test results are in than they are now.

We do not believe there are any synthetic dyes there -- remember we saw it in Philadelphia many years ago and, even with it having been hung high on the wall in a position that made it impossible to handle or view up close, we surely doubt there are synthetics there. There could be some repairs, both old and new, that utilized synthetic dyes but we doubt there were any originally.

So will these test really help LACMA to decide on whether or not to keep it? In our opinion, no, but the testing will allow them to feel confident they are now, at this point in time, doing everything possible to learn the truth.

We have spoken to a number of people at LACMA and stressed from the beginning the only way to determine what this rug is all about is from the vantage point of utilizing an art-historical approach , i.e. comparison with others of its type.

RK.com has done that for them and published it here months ago. Reading our analysis proves, for all intents and purposes, dodds's rug fails miserably when compared with every genuine pre-1650 "Bellini" and even with all the later "Bellini" rugs made from 1650 - 1800.

It is apparent LACMA now realizes this and, in our estimation, the dye analysis and C14 dating are just perfunctory moves LACMA is making as it progresses to the point of returning the rug to dodds.

There is no doubt dodds's pawning his rug off on LACMA is a disaster for not only the buyer and seller but also for the rug world in general.

Yet there is a silver lining here.

Although it might sound optimistic we feel, because this episode has highlighted the abysmal lack of science available for vetting Oriental Carpets, maybe soon everyone will realize how necessary it is to develop the specialized forensic techniques that will able in the future to circumvent the bogus "My rug is circa 1550" BS that caused the problem in the first place.

Author: Robert
Sun, Jul 17th, 2005 08:33:30 AM

RK.com, Dumb question: How will dye analysis be used prove (or disprove) that LACMA’s ‘Ushak’ rug is as old as Dodds claims it is? Assuming that no synthetic dyes are found, then what? Yes, one can extract dyes, perform chromatographic separation, analyze the components by mass spec, and identify them based on known dye standards, but without a fairly extensive database of historical samples (controls) with accurate date attributions for comparison it is doubtful that any firm conclusions can be drawn. Does such a database exist; if so, where is it published? Arguably, based upon (somewhat subjective) visual analysis of color quality, dying methods did change over the 200 years between 1600 (the date Dodds claims for the rug) and 1800 (the approximate date you claim), so chemical differences should be apparent too. But I reiterate: where is the database of historical samples for comparison? Robert

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