Home > Archive >Spring Sale @ sotheby - review, revised
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Fri, Jun 2nd, 2006 08:29:34 PM
Topic: Spring Sale @ sotheby - review, revised

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Reading a hali auction review makes RK feel we are a stranger in a strange land.

It’s one thing to rewrite history by putting one’s own spin on it and quite another to fabricate it from scratch.

Since the ‘review’ on their website is unsigned, we can only imagine it was written by ben evans, someone who clearly doesn’t know much about old rugs. In fact, we have come to the conclusion benny-boy doesn’t know much about anything to do with any rug – old or new.

But past his limitations, the happy talk BS, and slanted opinions that now pass for ‘expertise’ at hali, we seriously wonder if any reader believes what hali now writes.

We also wonder if benny, or whoever wrote this nonsense, believes they are writing anything other than fiction, and bad fiction at that.

Let’s take a quick gander at a few of the lots chosen for their review.

In our pre-sale preview we pictured lot 11 a late, and in our opinion revolting, Borjalu Kazak. And, though we normally avoid publishing miserable airport-art rugs like this as much as we would sitting down to a meal of a bird-flu chicken sandwich, here it is again:
The fact it sold for $36,000 might be lauded by a bean-counting bottom liner in sotheby’s accounting department but shouldn’t be by anyone else, especially the editor or staffer of a journal like hali.

Reading their take on this is sad:

“Among the Caucasians, demand for good pieces that haven't had a Turkish treatment continues to be strong, with lot 51, an unusual Borjalu with a narrow central panel on a field of characteristic hooked reciprocal forms making $36,000…”

We won’t quibble with the amateurish use of the word Caucasians, instead of referring to them as Caucasian rugs because, after all, benny-boy is an amateur.

But we will with the description of the designs in that narrow field as being “reciprocal”. They’re not and we suggest mr evans take a rug 101 class at the local junior college -- his attendance there is long overdue.

We might also suggest he take fat-boy schaeffer with him, in fact, maybe hali could negotiate a group rate and take the whole staff -- Lord knows they need to learn something besides how to sell adverts to producers of new rugs that are mostly copies of old ones.

Regardless of hali’s inability to recognize an airport-art copy of a Borjalu from a genuinely old one, or a reciprocal design from one that isn’t, the following absurd back-handed kudo they handed mary joe otsea takes the cake for self-congratulatory stupidity:

“The overall success of this sale was due above all else to some well-judged estimates and reserves. We have commented often enough that sensible estimates are a real come-on for buyers, and it seems that Sotheby’s, with a little bit of prompting, have taken the point.”

The only thing worse than a idiot is a pompous one and mr. evans can now join professor clown in that esteemed category of rug fool.

Speaking of otsea, who we have recently begun to refer to her as little bo-peep (who lost her sheep, remember?), we must say in her favor she, unlike evans and fatboy schaeffer, makes no bones about the fact she is a rank amateur when it comes to the old rug game.

And, in her case, once a secretary, always a secretary might be the best way to describe her place in rugdom says RK.

But back now to fantasyland and the hali review.

As lame as the comment we quote above is, the following is even dumber:

“The handful of genuine tribal pieces on offer performed less well, with lot 11, a Tekke Turkmen main carpet fetching $7,200, lot 28, a Shahsavan cruciform design bag face making just $3,000, and lot 44, a handsome Baluch bag face sold for $4,500.”

If the reviewer’s en passant mention there were only a “handful” of supposed “collector rugs” doesn’t ring the bell that this review is basically a non-paid for paid advertisement for sothebys, calling this Tekke main rug a “genuine tribal piece” should have knocked Big Ben right out of London Tower:

While it is not as pathetic a rendition of the form as the Borjalu is of its, never could this be called “genuine tribal” by any savant, let alone someone who is even reasonably knowledgeable about Turkmen weaving.

Once again, and for the umpteenth time, hali’s claims of expertise prove to be nothing more than hot air and wishful thinking.

Plus, RK reiterates: It's time hali and other expurts in rugland got off using the tribal term. Not only is it a giant misnomer but the highly innacurate picture it conjures up, of wild Turkmen spearchuckers, is about as far from the truth as one can get.

We've proposed the anthropologically correct small scale society or our preferred low culture terminology and would apreciate it if rugdom would follow suit.

By the way, in many ways this Tekke main rug reminds us of the grogan ensi, as it too has that formulaic cutesy workshop look about it. We don't ever remember seeing the cups icon used in a genuinely old main carpet elem and several of the designs used in the main border are equally suspect.

Then, of course, there is the palette, which is probably the strongest similarity these two "Tekke" weavings share.

We'd like to shot this arrow and say it is quite possible they were both produced in the same workshop but, before we are jumped on like a buxom blond virgin at a college frat party, remember we said quite possible..

However, we are sure if WAMRI’s forensic lab were operational, we could prove this contentions beyond a reasonable doubt.

But that’s another story.

To close we must mention lot 18 our favorite piece in the sale (and that’s not saying much), one we claimed is a Zakatala, and not a Kazak as the catalog states, sold for $7,800.

The pseudo-Memling gol rug, we pictured next to it in our preview, which according to us is a later Kazak and airport art, not a Zakatala as was written in the catalog, sold for the same price $7,800.

Again, this comparison proves 99.9% of the buyers at sothebys or, for that matter at every other rug auction, have the discernment of drunken sailors in a topless bar – everything looks good enough to take home.

And, as far as RK is concerned, it also proves our point there is no real market for old rugs.

This sothebys sale was, once again as we described it, the worst one we have ever seen and, instead of calling a spade a spade, hali took that spade and started furiously shoveling the BS in every direction.

Pretty pathetic RK laments, and hopes you do, too, but this is nothing in new in rugdom, now is it?

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