Home > LACMA's Questionable Rug Purchase >Monkey in the Middle
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Fri, Jun 8th, 2007 09:51:50 AM
Topic: Monkey in the Middle

(ed. We have renamed this post, which was formerly called "Pictures Worth a Thousand Words) and was written in December 2005,"Monkey in the Middle". Our reasons should be obvious.

And although the mess dodds's greed and stupidity has caused isn't laughable or funny, anyone who believes the "Bellini" he shuffled off to LACMA is museum worthy should be laughed at, not with.

Perhaps the most important issue here, and RugKazbah board reader know there are quite a few, is whether or not the dodds "Bellini" is museum worthy.

Viewing the photos below, and the many others that grace our contributions to the "LACMA's Questionable Rug Purchase"Topic Area, demonstrates just how unworthy it is, forget about it being in one of America's finest museums.

LACMA has a very small collection of rugs - the two standouts are the other Ardebil and the famous and amazingly beautiful Getty Coronation Carpet.

There is little doubt dodds's dud of a "Bellini" couldn't shine the toenails of either of those two masterpieces, or even be shown under the same roof.)


Above we have sandwiched the LACMA/dodds rug between two similar "Bellini" rugs.

They are rather conservatively dated to the mid-18th century and while they might be older, they surely are not newer.

Between them lies the dud of a "Bellini" dodds sold to LACMA, claiming his rug was circa 1550.

Anyone who is even remotely conversant with early Turkish Village Rugs can instantaneously see the "Bellini" examples flanking it are far more genuine, beautiful and historically significant than the fluffy pile of wool dodds had the nerve to pawn off on LACMA's naive curator.

The Museum should forget the ineffective dye testing and carbon 14 dating it has done and in their place do a complete art historical comparison of dodds's "Bellini" and the large ouvre of others available for this purpose.

Even the cursory one shown above proves our contentions about their purchase, as well as demonstrating how worthless it is when compared to real "Bellini" carpets. Even ones that are at the end of the continuum like those we have re-published here.

Unfortunately, the LACMA/dodds rug is way off that continuum -- at the tail end, mind you, not at the beginning as LACMA's administration still so falsely believes.

Author: John Lewis
Fri, Jun 8th, 2007 09:51:50 AM

RK Replies:

Well, John, you made several points and, although, we did not reply to the one you write about now, we agree with you.

The fact dodds's "Bellini" is heavily restored is an important point - especially since he did not have the honesty or forthrightness to mention it to prospective buyers.

But, that said, even in perfect 100% original condition his "Bellini" is a horribly mediocre example of the type and, most significantly, is not museum worthy.

The reality the oriental rug business is, and has ALWAYS, been the home of unscrupulous, generally inexpert and dishonest dealers is a major reason why hardly anyone collects rugs.

Starting an "association" that would include any icoc/acor/hali-ites would be like giving the keys to the duck pond to big, bad mr. wolf.

We all know, and have seen, how these folks act and the LACMA/dodds situation has proven their lack of desire, or is it ability, to express their honesty, expertise and forthrightness.

It is amazing not ONE person, other than RK, has publicly questioned what dodds has done.

So, not only are these folks short-sighted, but they are as culpable as dodds.

Will hali ever take a proper look at this situation?

Probably not, as lets remember their review of the sale, which was included in an article written about the exhibition LACMA mounted that included the rug several years ago, was written by a complete rug ignorant and neophyte, sherry hunter.

RK heard hali could not get anyone competent, so they dug to the bottom of the barrel found ms hunter who produced a review that described dodds's "Bellini" rug's pattern as the "dumb-bell" design.

Unbelievable they would stoop so low but was is even more incredible is the way not ONE reader commented.

This smacks of collusion to RK and hopefully our continuing efforts to bring these facts to the fore will, eventually, show some results.


You miss my point. My analogy stands - whether the amount of restoration is 35, 50, or 65% - describing such a heavily restored piece of furniture as being "from 1760" would get any reputable British dealer thrown out of their association.

Although there are reputable dealers, the ethics in the rug market are generally of a lower order and there is no association that will enforce higher ones. There are no candidate gatekeepers.

Author: john Lewis
email: john_lewis@mac.com
Thu, Jun 7th, 2007 01:48:05 PM

RK Replies:

Heylo John:

1. the rug is approximately 50% restored. This figure comes from someone who did a hands-on-analysis. Your figure of 35% original is incorrect.

2. There is huge debate among certain persons who are experienced with C14 dating procedures concerning the reliability of the de-contamination methods commonly used.

If you take the time to read the excerpts written my Meacham, or do a wider search yourself, you wil see there is far from common agreement about how and what procedures should be undertaken to insure a "clean" sample.

3. The fact Virginia Commonwealth University professor steve price has a Phd in physiology and has been a "teacher" for decades doesn't mean he knows anything about other areas of "science" or even his own.

The turko-idiot has proven himself to be a pompous fool who is unable to admit his errors time after time. He also knows nothing about old rugs.

The fact he shoots his mouth off and pretends he does is, in RK estimation, no different than believing the alleged early date for dodd's bogus "Bellini"

We are sure, eventually, that date will be disgarded and the rug will be seen as what we have claimed from the getgo -- a late genre copy circa 1750-1800.


If a C-14 dating has been made by a competent chemist dating it to 1650 at a 95% confidence level, then accept 1650. So, the question is, has the dating been done competently? However, if only 35% of the rug is original, that does not make the rug date from 1650 or make it worth anything. By analogy, I also collect old(ish) furniture and a heavily restored piece (only 35% original) from 1760 would have a fraction of the value of a 100% original piece in excellent condition. It would take a lot of nerve to describe such a piece as being "from 1760". Indeed, if one were sold a piece as being original and then it was subsequently found that most of it had been restored it would be a "money back, no issue" case in the UK furniture market. I made a post some time ago about the lack of regulation in the rug market - other antique markets are (fairly) well regulated i.e. by BADA, LAPADA etc. To me, the issues you raised originally are more to do with the integrity of the market than anything else. As for Professor Price's comments about science - he had better take a "Science 101" class or is he a creationist as well?

Author: jc
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Wed, Jun 6th, 2007 10:57:24 AM

The post above cannot but help to put the LACMA/dodds imbroglio into proper perspective: It needs to be discussed by rugdom and not dropped like the hot potato it is.

This comparison is as valid now as it was on December 2005 when it first appeared here on RugKazbah.com.

Even this very abbreviated historical comparison of the LACMA/dodds dud of a "Bellini" with two far better, but surely not the best, genuine "Bellini"'s clearly demonstrates why RK has continued to press our case.

We are sure anyone with an open mind and even a mediocrum of rug expertise has to agree with us that the "Bellini" dodds shuffled off on LACMA is not a "masterpiece of its type"; not "circa 1550"; nor is it museum worthy.

These are the bogus claims dodds used to hoodwink the Museum, forget about his claiming the rug was "from his private collection" or that it had "never been offered for sale", which were equally as dishonest.

Oh, and let's not forget the lynch-pin of dodds's sales pitch - the "remarkable" condition his rug was in.

It's time rugdom weighed in on this matter and until it does RugKazbah.com will continue to press for open and honest debate and continue to urge everyone to express their opinions directly to the director of the Museum, Michael Govan or to the curator of the Costume and Textile Department Sharon Takeda. They can be reach by post at the following address: 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90036.

Or for those of you who prefer email we would suggest emailing talktous@lacma.org.

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