Home > LACMA's Questionable Rug Purchase >All That Glitters re: LACMA
Wed, Dec 14th, 2005 09:15:04 PM
Topic: All That Glitters re: LACMA

Today RK put in a call to Sharon Takeda, who is the present Senior Curator of the Costume and Textiles Department at the Los Angeles County Art Museum (LACMA).

We have spoken to her several times in the past, in fact, our last talk with her was very recently, at the end of last week.

Sharon's field of expertise is Far Eastern Textiles and she knows nothing about Oriental Carpets, nor does she profess to.

In fact, no one on the entire roster of the Museum’s staff, be they curator or employee, knows anything about carpets.

This lack of curatorial expertise is, of course, the only reason a dud of a rug like dodds's ended up being heralded by the Museum as a masterpiece of the mid-16th century.

While dodds was laughing all the way to the bank with his pantfull of $$$, LACMA was left holding the bag -- an empty one at that.

In our conversations with Ms. Takeda we found her to be reserved but, none the less, interested in what we had to say. So much so that last week’s phone call went on for almost 2 hours.

She listen attentively as we enumerated the many the reasons behind our position, as well as our reservations concerning the "testing" LACMA now feels substantiates their newly minted mid-17th century dating.

We carefully explained C14 analysis is not really applicable for dating any post 1700 carpet, which dodds's dud surely is, and the fact the carpet's dye analysis did not detect the presence of synthetic dye also has little import.

As we said, she listened attentively and even looked with us at some of the information posted here on RK.com.

Earlier, this afternoon, we had a nice chat with Dr. A.J. Jull, who we learned from one of our sources, did the C14 dating for LACMA.

We are not presently at liberty to publish what he told us and as soon as we can, we will.

But we do feel we can mention Dr. Jull admitted the lack of reliability C14 dating can, and does return for object that are post 1750 and made it clear to us the period 1650-1750 is also problematic in reply to our questioning him about this issue.

Dr. Jull told us to counter these obstacles, when dealing with objects attributed to these time periods, he usually does a number of tests, or a series if you will, not just one or even two.

We also brought up the subject of contamination that is surely an issue an object like dodds's rug presents, since it has been exposed to various contaminants that can, and do, skew C14 analysis.

Dr. Jull explained the methods he employs to remove these extraneous influences and stressed the fact if they are not properly done, and the contaminants are not totally removed, the results of the C14 analysis would be inaccurate.

Fact is because dodds's rug is in our estimation at best circa 1750, or even later, no C14 analysis can be trusted, regardless of the contamination issue or multiple testing procedure.

Dr. Jull is a leading authority on C14 testing and we have no reservations about his skill or honesty. Nor do we believe he, unlike another scientist we have spoken to in the past who does C14 analysis, is more interested in selling his scientific expertise than perfecting it.

Dr. Jull impressed us, was right on in everything he told us and we greatly appreciate his input.

Regrettably, no one at LACMA appears to have asked the questions we did, or even thought to, and that is the crux of the matter.

After our phone call to Dr. Jull we felt it might be pertinent to speak to Ms. Takeda and breach some of the points that were made in our phone call with Dr. Jull.

After being told she was in a meeting and might be available later, we did just that, called back about an hour later.

When we asked to speak with Ms Takeda a woman named Michelle, who presumably works in the department, told us she would “…see if Takeda was available” and there was a long pause.

Then Michelle returned with this message “Under advise of legal counsel, Fred Goldstein, Ms. Takeda has been instructed not to speak with you. Furthermore, no one else from the Museum, other than Mr. Goldstein, will talk with you either and Mr. Goldstein would like to speak with you.”

We then asked for his number and after hearing it realized he works in the Museum.

We thanked Michelle and immediately put in a call to Goldstein.

Some minutes after leaving a voice mail message for him, he returned the call leaving one for us.

We called him back directly and in the 6 or 7 minutes that call lasted were told “It’s a free country you can do what you want” “You are free to express your opinion” “We do not agree with your opinion” etc, etc.

He then threatened us with legal action if we “…continued to harass and badger the Museum staff” and in general became rather testy when we attempted to raise certain material “issues”, particularly the dubious effectiveness of the “testing” and the conclusions the Museum has drawn from those “tests” and the apparent lack of interest the Museum has shown in any opinion that differs from their position.

But when we pointed out the Museum’s vulnerability in respect to the fiduciary responsibility they incurred by recommending the purchase of dodds’s dud of a rug to a group of private individuals who paid for it and then donated it to the Museum, Goldstein got meteoric and almost lost it.

That’s when he threatened us with the possibility the Museum would take legal action against us.

All in all, Goldstein’s performance was par for the course. And, like the all the moves the Museum has made so far, was nothing more than a haughty, how dare you, attempt to put the lid on a situation that is bubbling over and shows not sign of cooling down.

We left Goldstein with the message we do not intimidate easily and will not just go away.

Let’s remember:

1. When dale gluckman, the former Curator of Costume and Textiles, championed dodds’s rug and made her pitch to the group that put the money up for the rug, she told them it was “circa 1550” and a “masterpiece of it’s type”

2. Then after Walter Denny bravely recanted his position and re-dated it to the period “…1650-1750 but at the very end of that continuum” the Museum changed their attribution to circa 1600.

3. Now after the “testing”, the Museum has re-attributed it to “1650”.

We have made it clear from the get-go in our estimation the rug is circa 1750-1800 and the Museum keeps moving closer to our dating with each turn of the screw.

The fact it is a dud of a rug, and definitely not a masterpiece, has been lost on them as well.

The most salient questions to ask LACMA are:

1. Does anyone there understand the important difference that 100-year period, or 200 years plus in our estimation, makes for an Oriental Rug?

2.Does anyone in the Museum understand neither of the two tests they are basing their latest attribution on is any more positive than the dubious 1550 date dodds cocked up?

3. Has anyone at the Museum bothered to create an historical continuum of “Bellini” rugs to use as comparison for their rug?
Or for the matter bothered to read the one we have published?

4.Has anyone at the Museum bothered to analyze the highly questionable dossier of information dodds supplied and which they then used in their successful attempt to “sell” it to the group who put up the $250,000.oo to buy it?

5. Has anyone at the Museum realized when Walter Denny recanted his circa 1550 dating, this was an important sign something was wrong?

We could go on but, for now, we will finish with this quote someone, who is very close to LACMA, recently told us :

“You have to understand it is easier for the Museum to do nothing, even though they might know they have been duped, than for them to return the rug to dodds?”

Well, we surely know that but, as naďve as we are, we’d prefer to believe a museum of LACMA’s stature would not cringe at the truth and that the truth would win out.

Guess we’re just too naďve to believe principals are far more important than maintaining the status quo.

But as naďve as we are, and trust us on this one, we are not afraid to take our position as far as we have to.

Our crusade will not be derailed by LACMA’s attempts to cover-up the fact the rug is a late genre copy or by the threats of their legal counsel, Fred Goldstein, implied or other wise.

Author: bob in New York
Wed, Dec 14th, 2005 01:01:37 PM

This is the first post I have made on this discussion board. The only reason for my appearance is to say mr ashok's opinion is far off course. The bellini rug mr doods sold to Los Angeles Museum is in my opinion a piece of fluffy wool fit for my bathroom floor. Either Ashok is blind or just stupid. I think both.

Author: Ashok Ps brother Fred
email: Fred@AshokP.com
Wed, Dec 14th, 2005 08:36:16 AM

RK Replies:

Thought we rid ourselves of you, ashok p.

We do note you have dropped your slagging off mr feldmo and now have turned your jaundiced gaze on us, huh.

Your change seems to have stimulated one of our readers to write in and tell you what he thinks of you. Can't say we don’t agree.

But even though we might enjoy toying with you a bit more and do give you credit for getting someone new to post here, those dubious attributes are not enough for us to want to keep you around.

At best you are nothing more than a pesty BS'er and time waster.

So how do you like these apples, ashok, we have decided to ban you from participating on our board, as well as even visiting RK.com.

Enjoy playing with your pud in the privacy of your crib, 'cause you’ll have to leave it and travel a bit to chime in here again. Auf weidersein, dumkopf


Mr. Jack I have made a careful study into the Lacma Bellini rug. I compared it to the best rugs in the world. I used your Tent Band book and that silly oversize Killem that you wrote. Why oh why so big Mr. Jack, hard to read on the train will not fit in knapsack. If these are the most beautiful rugs in the world I like the Lacma Bellini rug better. All your best Turkmen rugs did not bring at auction as much as the great Dodds Bellini sold for. The market has spoken! Ashok Ps brother Fred

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