Home > Archive >sotheby Fall Sale Preview
Thu, Dec 15th, 2005 09:53:53 AM
Topic: sotheby Fall Sale Preview

After taking a look at the catalog for the sotheby New York Fall Sale for a second time we are debating whether or not to spend the time and effort to write a preview.

Needless to say we were not overwhelmed by what's on offer in the "collector" portion of the sale, which by the way will happen on December 16, 2005.

Perhaps we may or perhaps we might not preview the sale for RK's readers.

So until we decide, let's just say it's a definite maybe.

Author: jc
Thu, Dec 15th, 2005 09:53:53 AM

Although we don't believe it is necessary for us to state the following, perhaps for some new readers it might be important. That said it might also help some of you who have been visiting us for a longer time as well.

RK has high standards, in fact our standards are incredibly high.

Not only do we judge others and the weavings they might own or offer for sale by them but we also apply them to our self and, of course, what we own and offer for sale.

Our standards could rightly be called a gold standard, although in keeping that standard we also well recognize the old adage "horses for courses".

So then with this in mind let's put our comments, for example about this sale at sothebys, into the perspective we mean them to be interpreted.

When we say "We were hardly impressed by the hamper full of mostly mediocre decorative rugs or the few pieces that might light up the eyes of the likes of the few novice collector/investor types…” we are, naturally, applying our gold standard.

Were most of these rugs offered in a small country saleroom without the umm pah pah hype and upscale marketing that accompany all Sotheby sales we would surely not call the all the decorative rugs “mediocre” nor would we so negatively characterize some of the others that are now known as “collector” pieces.

But that is not the case and sotheby’s overarching presentations of such goods and their over-reaching estimates for all but a few pieces, like lot 224 which is absurdly underestimated, create the type of climate RK feels deserves our more sanguine commentaries.

Please note sothebys is not alone and this situation also exists with Christies and rippon-bozwell(yes we know how to spell their name but prefer to do it this way for our own reasons).

There also are some high profile dealers who we likewise apply our gold standard to, for instance what we have said about the now discredited ebberhard herrmann in the past and our present comments about the purveyor of that dud of a rug to LACMA, dennis dodds.

We surely appreciate glowing praise for weavings that deserve such accolades but we do not accept it when it is clearly only hype and bogus salesmanship.

We also apply our gold standard to those who write and pontificate about Oriental Rugs -- whether in the form of magazine journalism, books or on the internet.

For instance our continued objections to hali’s grossly out of proportion views or the efforts of professor price=clown, the most egregious example of an internet know-little who thinks he knows alot.

RK.com is this writer’s personal soapbox and we are secure enough in our expertise and position to know our opinions and judgment are not only valuable but unassailable.

We make no bones about our right to disseminate our views and make no apologies to those who might not like what we say. However, our readership must understand our gold standards are ones few other individuals have the ability to live by or even want to and this fact is central to understanding everything we say here on RK.com -- as well as what we do, have done and will do in the future outside the confines of this website.

Author: jc
Wed, Dec 14th, 2005 06:47:33 PM

We tripped into sothebys today and took a look at their offerings.

We were hardly impressed by the hamper full of mostly mediocre decorative rugs or the few pieces that might light up the eyes of the likes of the few novice collector/investor types who are naïve enough to believe the glowing description ms otsea undoubtedly counsels them with on their walk arounds with her in tow.

While we were making our few passes through the maze of temporary walls otsea had constructed on the 10th floor, we saw first hand a few of these folks in her clutches.

We hope they know what caveat emptor means because there was a whole hell of a lot of new wool hanging on those walls as far as we are concerned.

Just two mentions here seem worth our time to illustrate.

The first, an overpoweringly exquisite North West Persian gallery carpet, lot 224, was RK's absolute favorite in the sale.

It is surely the most beautiful example of this type of late 18th/early 19th century rug RK has ever had the pleasure of seeing.

It is truly a masterpiece of its genre and time period.

Although it has been cut and shut to its present size, 26 feet long, as well as having some sloppy old repair and other areas that need attention, these flaw are easily overlooked by anyone who is not brain dead or half blind.

The ignorantly low 10-15,000 dollar estimate no doubt took these boo-boos into account but when faced with such overwhelming beauty, supreme materials and weaving that estimate is as foolish as estimating the Venus de Milo at $10-$15K because of her missing arms.

Yeesshhh, is otsea and her crew so art insensitive to miss the abundant charms and masterpiece quality this gallery carpet exudes?

Needless to say we expect it to soar on sale day, look for around $50,000 unless the boys are so broke as to be afraid to spend and the decorator crowd dwarfed into a comatose state by its huge size.

In our earlier look at the sale, we mentioned our reservations about the soumak bag, lot 4:

We have never liked the main border or thought it was an indigenous, rather than an imported, one and that combined with the somewhat gross little critters and two dimensional design didn’t help to convince us of its age or import.

After handling it we believe it is mid-19th century and, while we do not agree with the catalog’s attributing it to the south Caucasus or NorthWest Persia, we agree it is not from the areas of the Caucasus proper where genuinely older bags come from.

However, we will wait until post sale to share any further of our thoughts about it with y’all.

So until then….caveat emptor.

Author: jc
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Fri, Dec 9th, 2005 04:29:03 PM

Apropos our lack of interest in previewing sothebys, or the unmentioned Christies Fall Sales in New York, we spied hali’s efforts, which comme d’habitude can not be classified as anything other than agenda driven promotion.

Were it not for the fact this is has always been their modus operandi, we might chalk up the overly optimistic reportage to the ignorance of their new editor, ben aka jimmy olsen evans.

While it’s clear evans knows even less than danny schaffer, his predecessor and ‘mentor’, neither of them should be writing rug analyses for a magazine that claims to be the premier source for information about this art area.


Well, simply put neither of them has the expertise to do so and this fact, coupled with hali’s propensity to favor with glowing prose the sales of their advertisers, hamstrings their reports and reduces them to nothing more than unpaid advertisements.

Let’s take a quick gaze at this, their latest attempt to properly preview an auction sale, which was undoubtedly written by evans though we grant it is unsigned.

The first paragraph again contains a nod to reality (see our look at schaffer’s rippon bozwell report) though it is added as a rejoinder at the very end:

“The winter rug and carpet sales in new York are always one of the high points of the annual auction round. It is interesting to compare the printing of the two houses' catalogues. Sotheby's is excessively bright and colourful – if only all the rugs really looked so rich in the flesh! – while Christie's effort is uniformly drab.”

But from there, regardless of evans small token of truth, it’s business as usual – strike up the band and pump, pump, pump.

To dissect evans’s comments here would only waste our time and glorify them but let us demonstrate why we are damning and have damned, hali’s reportage.

After heralding the dubious merits of several wasted classical carpets and their unremarkable provenances evans states:

“Other likely highlights in the morning 'collectables' sessions include lot 3, a luscious Jaff Kurd bag face with deeply saturated colour (estimate $2,000-3,000), and lot 4, a Shahsavan cruciform design bag face (the third to appear at auction in the past two months), estimated at $8,000-10,000, although if recent form is anything to go by, it could make much, much more.”

Now please mr cub reporter when has a Jaf Kurd bag ever been something to trumpet and, not to diminish the touchy-feely tactile qualities the best of them possess, let us tell you the genre itself has had, and will always have, nothing more than a footnote in the bible of “collectible rugs”.

And wake up, benny-boy, to the reality the ShahSevan cruciform bag on offer at sotheby’s is a rather late, and totally uninteresting, example we hold some reservations about, re: its genuineness.

In any event, the 8-10,000 dollar estimate is way too much, regardless of the fact another similarly late-ish example, which was better but surely not a star mind you, recently sold at rippon-bozwell for almost 38,000 dollars.

No sorry, lad, its back to rug 101 for you.

The preview goes on with evans continuing more of the same happy-talk:

“This is, on the face of it, a strong sale, with plenty for collectors and decorators alike.”

While we will not take exception to the decorative carpet comment we will to calling this sale a strong one on the collectible front.

It’s not and only a novice, or someone paid to say so, would dare to say it was.

But perhaps the most ludicrous point evans raises is his statement:

There are a number of decent quality Caucasians, many with sufficient provenance to reassure buyers that they are not recent examples of creative over-restoration…”

Over restoration or outright fakery did not start yesterday, ben, and just because someone in the rug trade or collector arena previously owned one of the lots up for grabs at sothebys that provenance is as worthless as a recent issue of hali is once it is taken out of the box and the next one is out.

It’s about time hali recognized the emperor’s new clothes psychology rampant in rugdom and began the long hard tramp to change this sorrowful situation.

That’s it for us but we can not help mention, in this look at hali’s reportage, their failure to even acknowledge the now long running controversy concerning the LACMA/dodds rug, let alone weighing in on the questions surrounding the sale and, foremost, examining the substantial body of evidence RK.com has provided to support our contention the rug is a late genre copy.

Author: jc
Thu, Dec 8th, 2005 10:28:31 AM

Sorry but RK is too short on time and sotheby's sale is too bereft of "collector rugs" of import or merit for us to bother to preview another bunch of mediocre pieces that barely make the grade as ones able to be characterized as "colllectible"

We will, however, probably review what happened in the salesroom after they have crossed the auction block.

Again that's a definite maybe.

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