Home > Archive >Record Rug Price
Mon, Nov 14th, 2005 02:14:54 AM
Topic: Record Rug Price

Today, in NY NY a very significant event in the rug world occurred but few in that rug world knew about it.

An as top of the line as you can get furnishing carpet with some minor distinguished provenance was sold for a bit more than $2,000,000.oo with premium, which makes it, we believe, the most expensive rug yet sold.

We might be wrong about this, as we are not very interested in furnishing carpets and don’t follow their prices at auction.

Some might groan at RK’s characterization but in reality, that’s all this late in the Period, cotton warp and wefted cartoon carpet is – a luxurious technical achievement that has no soul.

OK you might now groan again what gives a carpet soul and why doesn’t this one have one?

Let’s start with the second half of that question. The weavers of this grand 27 by 11 foot carpet slavishly followed a cartoon and a small one at that.

RK has always found the typical flip-flopping re-use of a cartoon, as this rug and the designs of many other “Classical Carpets” demonstrate, disconcerting to say the least. And although one can admire the perfect math at work here, the big “so what” is all we see and think.

There is no message, no connection to anything other than the designer’s skill at tendering a “design” and a weaver’s to reproduce it.

Being dated to the late 16th century in the catalog is something we don’t buy and would rather propose mid-17th.

We did not go to see it in person, though we know from experience how beautiful these carpets can be, especially when in excellent condition – undamaged pile and color – as supposedly the case here.

But beauty without substance wears quickly thin and rugs of this ilk are, we imagine, great to walk on but, and this we know, nothing to meditate with.

For all those who don’t already know, RK only likes rugs one can meditate with, but, let’s go on here.

The 2 million price paid today is ten times that paid, in the same auction room by the way, in 1980 when this rug last changed hands.

The lurid tale of how it, and the rest of this ‘estate’, end up at sothebys is quite a tale but we don’t have the energy to gossip about it here.

But we do have the strength to wonder out loud why sotheby did not hype this carpet to the max.

They sure have blown their horns for lesser goods but this, really wonderful and rare furnishing rug, was basically ignored.

We all know the brightest bulbs aren’t burning in sothebys carpet dept. but this one should have been a natural for even them.

Plus hali, their often time advert paid mouthpiece, didn’t give it a mention, well at least one we saw.

RK suspects the lack of promo wasn’t an oversight but part of an agenda that might be almost as lurid as Monsieur Safra’s demise, only no-one died here!

In closing let us state two million dollars for a rug is a big deal….but……not really, when many a painting, with probably similar commercialistic parentages (be it Titian, Picasso or Warhol) regularly sells for ten times as much as it made.

Like paintings, there are good rugs, great rugs and then there are masterpieces. Was this rug a masterpiece? We say no but neither was it something to be have been closeted away in an “estate” sale with barely a mention.

And in the scheme of things the "Safra" rug is worth far in excess of the price it brought, as is almost always the case with masterpiece rugs at auction.

Why? Stay tuned we might one day address that fact but for now we appreciate it too much to discuss in public.

Author: jc
Mon, Nov 14th, 2005 02:14:54 AM

Reading the hali “review” of the sale of this carpet entitled “Safra's a Winner for Sotheby's” made RK feel like he’d landed on Mars without his Martian map. Yikes, do they think just by writing from their myopic advertising-driven viewpoint they can change history?

Witness this, the opening sentence:
“The auction market in Persian classical carpets goes from strength to strength. At Sotheby's New York on 3 November 2005, the Michaelian 16th/17th century Khorasan animal and tree carpet, lot 160 in the well-promoted single-owner sale of 'Property from the Collections of Lily and Edmond J. Safra', fetched a massive $2,032,000, almost three times the high end of its $500-700,000 estimate spread.”

'Scuze us but we’d like to inquire of hali’s erstwhile "new" editor ben evans, who probably penned this electronic screed, “where’s the goes from”? If it’s the Rothschild piece sold in 1999, we’d have to say that market is moving as slowly as frozen maple syrup, not even worth the mention in our opinion. And since the Rothschild piece outsold Safra's such a comparision is a bit short on tooth.

Here’s another bit of hali double-speakie:
”It is not known who purchased the Khorasan carpet, which is in excellent condition for its age, but Sotheby's after-sale press release tells of three anonymous telephone bidders, so it is most likely to be a private collector rather than a trade or institutional buyer.”

Now why is that ben, aka jimmy olsen, evans? Don’t trade buyers use phone bids? Come on benny-boy either level with your readers that you know who bought it or forget offering dumb crystal ball gazing as fact.

“When last seen at SNY in November 1980, consigned by the Estate of the late Frank M. Michaelian, this gloriously colourful jufti-knotted east Persian carpet, with its exceptionally decorative, dense, small-scale all-over design…”

By the way, ben, that , “exceptionally decorative, dense, small-scale all-over design” is nothing more than a rather elaborate, and rocco version in our estimation, interpretation of the old mina-khani pattern. And surely not one for the record books, though we do grant this rug is very, very decorative.

“The Safra sale, which set a world record total yield for a furniture and decorative arts auction, was a triumph for the auctioneers and a very, very pleasing result for Mrs Safra.”

Vis-à-vis the consignor, we heard an interesting story about how when Mrs. Safra first saw the auction preview she almost hit the roof because of the sloppy job sotheby’s had done arranging her treasures.

Supposedly she started squawking at the staff she’d stop the sale unless something was done immediately. After one of the sotheby’s head honchos was called in to appease her, we heard, she then started right in on him.

Well, after the staff spent some hours re-arranging the preview to her direction and satisfaction we guess she was satisfied, the sale did go on.

Did her Michaelian Carpet sell as well as her other masterpieces? We say no, not really, in any true comparative sense.

Carpets are still extremely undervalued and sotheby’s mediocre effort, even though it produced a price of 2 million, proved the point in spades. If their advertising campaign failed to bring the carpet’s sale to the attention of important rug collectors, who knows how many other interested buyers also remained in the dark about its sale?

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