Home > Archive >High Prices/Questionable Dating carpetbagger dodds
Sun, Feb 12th, 2006 08:49:10 PM
Topic: High Prices/Questionable Dating carpetbagger dodds

(ed. note: What follows above the dotted line is the email exchange between dodds and a prospective client of his who has allowed us to publish this email. We have already published another here in this topic area and this should be read after that one.

The > marks appear before what the client wrote.

We have added these > to facilitate understanding who said what and to differentiate his questions from dodds’s replies.

Again this email exchanged took place during December 2004)

Hello ********:

I'm pleased to have your prompt response and continued interest. Yes, each of these is unique and a prime example of its type. Let me address your queries:

The first piece, the longer carpet with that astounding pattern is, of course, the type of weaving I had in mind when I wrote to you last. It surely appears to be quite old and exceptionally beautiful.

>I can see there are a number of damaged areas in the right border where the pile has been somehow destroyed but overall it appears to have survived the ravages of time quite well. Are there any areas of repair or repiling?

Yes, there is restoration, mostly around the edges and one section of the border, as these areas have been the most exposed during its 350 years. The carpet I sold to Los Angeles also had areas of restoration. The overall pile of the carpet is generally intact and rather substantial, as I think you can perceive from the texture in the close-up details, with two small reweaves in the field -- one about 2x2 inches and the other 1x2 inches.

> Are the colours strong and vibrant or are they somewhat pale? It is so hard to tell from a picture, especially a digital one sent over the Internet.

I would say that the digital images are indeed more pale than they are in person. While the palette is dominated by the beige field, the other colors are stronger and more contrasting than the images portray.

>Needless to say I like it most definitely. Has it ever been published? Do you have any provenance?

The carpet was published by Dodds and Eiland, ORIENTAL RUGS FROM ATLANTIC COLLECTIONS, p. 22, pl 22, 1996, and was one of the centerpieces for the Woodmere Museum exhibition during the 8th ICOC in Philadelphia in 1996. The carpet was donated by the philanthropic Leverington family to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the 1920s. To raise funds for conservation of the Williams and McIlhenny collection of carpets and the museum's Oriental Art collection, the museum sold the carpet in the early 80s when I was fortunate to acquire it.

The size is 3.4 x 7.4 feet.

Price: 150,000 BPS (ed. British Pounds Sterling)

> The second piece, the prayer rug, is also very captivating.

>It appears to be in quite fine condition. Is the pile low or does it retain its original height? Is there any repair or repiling?

It is in fine condition and very rare, with the white prayer arch. The original pile is short and is typical for these types of rugs from Ushak in Western Anatolia that faithfully followed models of the Ottoman court ateliers.

Overall, the pile shows very little wear. There is a restored area in one of the borders and there are minor breaks and repairs at the top and bottom. There is a small patch about 1x1 inch from a carpet of the same age, late 17th century. If you choose, these small areas could be masterfully restored.

>Do you have any provenance for it as well?

I purchased this rug in 1973 from the estate of a distinguished private collector in the Philadelphia region of Bucks County. It was published and exhibited by the highly respected Textile Museum in Washington, DC in PRAYER RUGS FROM PRIVATE COLLECTIONS, Patricia L. Fiske, p. 9, plate 3, 1974.

The size is 3.10 x 4.10 feet.

Price: 50,000 BPS

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RK’s comments follow:

Carpet-bagging dodds then went on offering several other pieces at equally unsupportable price levels.

Naturally the “client” dodds sent this email and photos to did not purchase anything from dodds, nor has he contacted dodds since these email exchanges were carried out.

It’s a free country and anyone is entitled to price their goods as they like.

However, that said, there is a limit to the extent one’s greed can carry sway when setting prices.

RK.com has shown other istances of how dodds’s proven rug sale modus operandi seems to have been unable to hold that greed in check.

Remember in 2001 he offered the LACMA rug to Dr. Smith for $135,000, and then to someone else we have heard from who told us dodds offered it in 2002 for $80,000.

How he then, in 2004, managed with a straight face to boldly quote $250,000 to the LACMA’s curator, dale gluckman, who presented it to the Collector’s Committee we can only ascribe to wanton unchecked greed.

As for the two “museum” quality rugs dodds offered the client in this email?

The first, a south central Anatolian long rug, dates in our estimation circa 1800, while dodds wildly states to the client it is "350 years old" (i.e. circa 1650).

Perhaps the field design might be called dramatic by someone like dodds who is seeking adjectives to help “sell” a rug, or by someone who not an expert in Early Turkish Village weaving. But, in the final analysis, we find it to be another two-dimensional, cutesy weaving like LACMA's. Surely we can not see it as important, in any sense of the word, as dodds portrayed it.

Why? Simply put because it lacks the “I” word – iconography.

There is a pathetic absence of anything that vaguely could be called an icon here and that, more than any other reason, prevents us from agreeing with dodds or anyone else who might feel this rug is earlier than 1800. Or that it is a anything more than decorative --in our opinion it is just like the LACMA rug, far more suitable for luxury domestic floor use than hanging in a Museum or any important collection.

Besides for the fact it appears to have more restoration than dodds lets on in the email -- this something we are suggesting is possible from carefully examining a larger format photo than the one that appears here -- the border is a gross and terribly flaccid rendition of a quite rare one but it completely lacks any finesse or grace. It is a grossly meaningless overstatment and addition to the cutesy field.

By the way, the field design is copied from a small, somewhat earlier group of prayer rugs where the undulating "leaves" in the field of dodds's long rug are actually found in their extra-wide borders. Those prayer rugs are called 'island melas' in Turkey and they are quite rare, only a few are known.

Overall, we’d have to call dodds's long rug an assemblage of disparate elements, a pastiche or just the product of some wishful thinking on the part of a circa 1800 Anatolian town dwelling weaver.

It has none of the power and majesty, let alone viable iconographic imagery, associated with genuinely early Turkish Village rugs.

The second piece once again presents dodds trying to silk line the sow’s ear.

His unsuccessful attempt to class this prayer rug as a 17th century Ushak is, in our opinion, way off the mark, as it is nothing more than a good circa 1800 Ghiordes prayer rug.

The over-designed borders, panel and niche above the mirhab swell with an ungodly abundance of highly compressed elements, most of which are poorly rendered compared to other prayer rugs of this type of which there are many.

This crowded jumble of pattern cannot help but leave a very unsatisfactory impression, surely not one an alleged 17th century prayer rug would disclose.

We could go on but to ask 150,000BPS (almost $290,000) for the long rug or 50,000BPS (almost $90,000) for the Ghiordes prayer rug is way over the top, not for the least considering both rugs have been turned down by countless collectors over the years.

Great rugs sell fast and the fact these rugs, like the LACMA rug, were shopped around by dodds for years to no takers proves one thing -- only he thinks they are something special.

They clearly are not and we believe he still has both of them, care to find out what dodds wants for them now?

Author: jc
Sun, Feb 12th, 2006 08:49:10 PM

For the past days, dodds has been out in San Francisco plying his wares at an antique show held in Fort Mason each year.

A number of rug dealers have taken to go out there and dodds is one of the bunch seeking to do some rug dealing in the city, one RK knows well and still enjoys visiting, best known for Stone Crab and Stoned People.

On opening night, during the Preview Party (sorry no people magazine style pics here of rug-world grandees holding plastic cups filled with cheap jug wine, go to hali for those), dodds was overheard talking about the problems at LACMA.

"That ass--ole doesn't know a 16th century rug from a new one." Blah, blah de-blah he went along referring to us.

We were told this by someone who overheard some of dodds's conversation.

We're sure this wasn't the only time he mentioned us, nor his only use of that ‘reference’ when he did.

In answer let’s just say we have forgotten more about historic rugs than dodds could ever imagine and would anytime be glad to be on a stage with him to discuss any type of non-classical (i.e. safavid/ottoman atelier/factory), historic carpet, flat-weave or textile.

We have already said he advertised rugs that appear to us to be reproductions or not nearly as old as he claims and make no bones about him being a rug know-little.

We will be glad to revisit any of those discussions with dodds should he chose to do it here on RK.com or anywhere else he wants.

We will also be glad to make mince-meat out of dodds's incomplete and inadequate understanding of what these weavings are all about in any public or private venue he wants.

But dodds knows this well and would avoid, at any cost, trying to debate rugs with us.

If you don't believe what we say is truth, talk to dennis yourself.

Better yet organize a audience show and tell session with dodds and RK on the stage.

One thing is sure, RK wouldn't bother to pander to ruggies in any other venue but we would welcome the opportunity with dodds.

OK, alright, back to LACMA: What he has done is indefensible.

Either he didn't know the rug was a late, period genre reproduction or he lied about it to gluckman.

This paradigm lays at the bottom of this sordid affair.

Plus dodds's raising the price for gluckman after schlepping the rug around for some long years trying to sell in to any and all comers plays even worse. Two "clients" of dodds have contacted RK and told us he offered it to them for $135,000 and $80,000. LACMA paid $250,000, guess dodds knew when he had a real sucker on the line, huh?

"It's from his private collection and was never for sale" QUOTE and end Quote gluckman told us during that initial phone call RK placed to her.

"He bought it in Turkey 25 years ago" she told us.

RK quickly and conclusively proved he did not buy it 25 years ago, as it was publicly exhibited for sale in 1981, and in 1983 was included in an Austrian Textile Society exhibition.

Catalogs of both shows picture the rug. Did dodds show those to gluckman? Duhhhh.

So if dodds bought it in Turkey, it's only because some clever merchant took it from Europe and "planted" it there for some moke like dodds to "discover".

Face facts fans, any great historic Turkish rug is worth lots more in Europe or America than in Turkey.

But a not so good one might be far more saleable there than here.

Why? For the same rational certain "almosts" or "almost almosts"(the category for the rug dodds pawned off on LACMA) sell for more 200-400 miles into the countryside than they would at sotheby.

Here, in this case, RK believes we know who pulled strings and "placed" that rug with dodds.

It is true dodds has had it for years and Lord knows for most of that time it appears he had been trying to find a buyer.

Well, he finally did, and the buyer fell for it hook line and sinker - times two.

Too bad for dodds the buyer was a museum curator and the ensuing publicity, much of it by dodds himself, alerted RK and the rest is history.

RK is convinced we will win and the rug will go back to dodds -- it's only right it does, as it's far from a masterpiece, not museum worthy and along with dodds's lies, fabrications and exaggerations give him no credible position to stand on when LACMA will come knocking on his door.

The only reason the rug is still on Wilshire Blvd is LACMA's refusal to admit they were fooled.

LACMA did no real research before buying it and their present position, i.e. changing the date 3 times, etc. etc., has left them nothing to stand on either. The fact they did no real research is the weak link in their chain and no after-the-fact C14 date will help it.

Shame really, but what is the most shameful is the lack of response from rugdom. Honestly, if LACMA's directorate received a number of letters from rugland they would add much weight to the words RK has published.

We all want to help the museum and it's not about the money, it is about a dud of a rug being passed off as a museum piece.

The $250,000 is meaningless to LACMA, and it should be but how it was spent surely shouldn't.

And until LACMA gets that clear and understands it was very poorly spent, they will continue the charade.

Now they have a carbon 14 date to hide behind, their resolve and dodds's getaway are looking even better.

However, buying an early C14 date is easily done and, even if there was nothing irregular, such a date is not prima facie documentation of provenance.

It is, at best, just one other piece of information in a dossier one needs to compile for such a purpose.

There is no way the date LACMA is now hanging their fedora on is consistent with the relative dating continuum all known "Bellini" rugs make.

Eventually this glaring fact and those of dodds's misrepresentations and worse will spirit that rug away from LALA land and deposit it, like a stork taking a dump, chez dodds in Philadelphia.

As far as RK is concerned that day could not come soon enough – it’s airport-art.

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