Home > Archive >What's It Worth?
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Tue, May 30th, 2006 02:56:11 PM
Topic: What's It Worth?

Earlier this month a portrait painting by Pablo Picasso sold at Sotheby New York for $95,216,000.00.

Yes, thatís right ninety five MILLION dollars and some spare change.

Well, after spending a bundle like that, the two hundred sixteen thousand dollars is really only spare change, right?

Anyway, though this painting is ďimportantĒ, as it is his mistress and muse, Dora Maar and was painted in 1942, is it really worth that amount of lucre?

Not to get involved in a discussion of whether or not Picasso is a great artist, or just a great promoter, or if this is his best or one of his best works, the fact remains thatís a whole lotta cash to tie up in one art-work.

Even if the prime rate of lending is relatively low at the moment, say 4%, it would cost in real terms about 3.5 million dollars a year to own it.

Letís just stop and think about this for an instant.

During the run up to the great depression and worldwide financial collapse following October 29, 1929, similarly outlandish prices were paid for Old Master paintings and renaissance sculpture.

Yes, those prices adjusted for todayís dollars still seem rather reasonable, however, in real terms, i.e. gold or chop-meat which ever is your choice to base a standard on, they were, like the portrait of Dora Maar totally out of line. By the way, RK believes the next worldwide financial tsunami and 9 point on the richter scale earthquake is just around the corner. Mark our words well.

But back to Dora Maar.

What is really out of line here, and the purpose for RKís writing this today, is the ridiculously meager price a great rug would sell for in comparison.

Letís just say for grins, we were able to remove Picassoís name from the portrait.

What do you think it would sell for then? Nine million? Nine hundred thousand? Ninety thousand? Nine thousand? Or Nine hundred?

RK would forward nine hundred as the price.

Why you might ask?

Simply put, paintings only sell because of the painter, not because of their quality or any other factor. And because Picasso is one of the most famous painters of all time, was a prolific artist and a personality extraordinaire his works command great attention and huge prices.

Had he been a shy, retiring fellow who painted only a few works, we are doubly positive he would be selling in the low millions at best, or perhaps not even at that level, and then only on account of his participation in Cubism and other avant-garde movements.

Had he not participated, he would be selling in the thousands or tens of thousands. This is fact, donít doubt it.

So the reality painting collectors are actually only autograph hounds is nothing new, nor is it a brilliant deduction on RKís part.

Far from it, anyone with half a brain who follows the art-market knows this.

However, since RK is interested in historic Eastern Mediterranean weaving, we know the only way to garner appreciation, and yes high prices, for the best of these art works is hanging autographs on them.

OK, Dorothy, we know these weavings, besides for a few signed, or inscribed, classical Safavid or Ottoman Carprets, which by the way all RKís readers know donít interest us very much, are unsigned and undated.

In fact, most of them cannot even be attributed to a specific geographic location, let alone to any weaver or group.

So how then can we put that all important ďautographĒ on them?

Science, boys and girls, thru forensic scientific analysis.

RK is already well on the path of seeking funding to put our ideas into practice and when, not if, we are endowed the glass ceiling separating historic Near Eastern weaving from the top of the art market will shatter like a pepsi bottle thrown out of a speeding semi.

Not to insult our audience but to call the shots as they are, many of you could help to support this investigation instead of buying more airport art at sothebys, Christies or bozwells, spending your money to attend another stupid acor or icoc circle jerk or spending your time reading what those rug challenged stupid bastards and rug ignorants like blurry oCONnell, professor price=clown, filiberto the vacuous twit or dopey dead-eye john howe scribble daily.

Itís about time those of you who want to make a statement get off your chairs and join RK.

We will guarantee your participation will ensure not only your places in rug history but also your place in rug heaven.

There is no doubt a great historic Turkmen, Caucasian or Turkish weaving has as much star power as the Dora Maar portrait and wanna know something? Itís far more rare, exciting and art worthy.

We dare any major museum to put a weaving of our choice on one wall of a large gallery room and any painting of their choice on the opposite wall.

Nothing else.

We are willing to bet at long odds when the lay public enters that room our weaving will out draw, or at least equal, the attention paid to their painting.

Viewers could even be polled to see which art work was more appreciated or important in their opinion.

We are positive our choice would win hands down and know weaving is the art of the 21st century.

Hereís a mockup of our idea, Dora Maar in a comparison side-by-side with a detail from a weaving with, in our estimation, more star power than anything Picasso ever painted:

Just a little fact before we have to sign off: The Weaving Art Museum website gets about 150 Ė200 users per day on average, 2-3000 hits per day.

Now think about this, there is no links page so anyone who comes to visit has nowhere to go, WAMRI is a cul-de-sac.

Also nothing new has been added to the site, not one word or picture, since last May.

So who are all these visitors?

Honestly, we cannot answer that question but we do know many come from educational institutions and while we can, like on RugKazbah, collect IP addresses we surely cannot put any faces behind those numbers.

RK knows the public at large is very interested in the magic, beauty and history that belong to great historic weavings from the Near East and when, not if, those autographs are established, skyís the limit for not only new levels of pricing but, far more importantly, new and wider levels of appreciation.

Author: John Lewis
email: john_lewis@mac.com
Tue, May 30th, 2006 02:56:11 PM

RK Replies: We couldn't agree more with what you write.


Does it really matter?

DIRM? is an excellent question that helps one get life in perspective and reduces stress. It is one of the reasons I am so chilled.

The answer to DIRM may be "Yes" where US Marines have been killing innocent civilians in Iraq and there has been a cover-up.

The answer to the price paid for a Picasso is "No".

I can imagine that to someone sitting on a pile of beautiful old weavings the answer might be "yes", but for the majority of us it is "no".

We can acquire a Picasso for $900 (a good print that from a distance is almost indistinguishable from the original) OR - we can spend our money on original works of art woven 150 years ago by 13 year old virgins.

Few of us can afford $90m. Many of us can afford $900, even $9000 or $90,000

If someone wants to pay $90m for a Picasso - fine - as you say they are collecting a signature and it is probably an "investment". as they say in Yorkshire "clogs to clogs in three generations".

If people want to collect beautiful things as an investment then, (with buyers' premiums) - great, let them do so.

But, I would much rather collect beautiful things for their intrinsic beauty (and, yes, the kelim is at least as beautiful as the Picasso) and I would much rather have 10,000 x $9,000 rugs that one $90m Picasso, ANY day.

Incidentally, looking at prices of rugs 10 years ago compared with what they would fetch today - rugs are not a bad investment.

In summary, rugs give a lot more pleasure per dollar than Picasso paintings - so let's not have too many people in on the secret.

Of course, even if rugs are good VFM, misrepresenting them as being earlier than they are is still a heinous offence.

Author: ???
Mon, May 29th, 2006 03:22:57 PM

RK Replies:

Actually it should be apparent we hold the opinion they -- a few of ours and some few others in the deYoung Museum, San Francisco, are not only equal to but also superior.

Picasso's earliest portraits of cafe habituees, not his "blue" period, mind you mindless one, really are amazing and show great mastery.

The far more well known and lauded "blue" period, in our estimation, only shows the maturation of that "early" brilliance and spontaneity.

What about his Cubist period? Well from the beginning it was copied and lifted, not only from the pre-existing non-European sources we mention, but, even more so, from his friend Braque.

Dora Maar and her portraits come very late in that phase and while they are somewhat quizzical and comical in our eye, they are not "great art", far from it.

That said, much, if not all, of Picasso's later, Post WWII, work is hack, the prolific output negating any great effort on his part to do anything other than produce fame and, yes, fortune.

Warhol was similar but his early work, pre-soup cans, never in 95,000,000 years could equal the brilliance of Picasso's, however, his later works dust anything Picasso did after those early works cited above.

Not to waste our time explaining, to someone who is too afraid to post his name here, what we know about painting and what, sir, you clearly donít, we will reiterate: Picasso's portrait is worthless without his signature on it and our kelim, though it could never brings a tenth of the price Dora Maar brought is ten times the ďartĒ.

When we are all dust, a kelim like that will be, trust us on this one squeeky, far more relevant and "important" than the late Cubistic portrait he painted of a woman who he treated more poorly than we'd ever treat a dog.

So, ta ta for now, mickey mouse, enjoy your cheez=its or it is a string-cheese treat on holiday weekends?


You think your kilims (or any others) are the artistic equal of the works of Picasso? What are you smoking, man? You think your kilims (or any others) are the artistic equal of the works of Picasso? What are you smoking, man?

Author: jc
Sun, May 28th, 2006 10:12:02 AM

Incidentally, it is no accident or coincidence we chose that particular weaving. After all, we do have a number of others equally as significant.

But we chose it and that detail because of the strong visual relationship it bears with Picasso's oil painting.

Notice if you will the corresponding juxtaposition of the colors and shapes of the designs.

Fact is, Picasso lifted the idea of Cubism from certain genre of what most people refer to as tribal art.

RK has never candled to that term, preferring low culture or small scale society art to such a ubiquitous and meaningless term.

What is tribal, other than a frankly very pejorative term, we have always asked those who throw it around like dirty laundry?

Never mind the terminology, it is fact Picasso and other equally famous early 20th century avant-garde artists did not miss the sophistication and brilliance some of the greatest anonymous artists from Africa, the Americas and, yes, the Eastern Mediterranean, who lived generations and even millenia before them, were able to instill into the everyday, ceremonial and spiritual creations they fashioned from wood, clay, bone, ivory, various pigments, and fibers, both vegetal and animal.

Many of these 20th century masters vocalized their debt to these unnamed creators who produced the wealth of non- European art that fills museum basements and, lately, the homes of avant-garde collectors.

This story will be told and retold to and by our generation and those succeeding us.

That is the planet doesn't, like an untamed stallion and his wannabe rider, shake mankind off to save itself from destruction and ruin.

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