Home > Archive >Opinions
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Thu, Oct 12th, 2006 05:28:51 AM
Topic: Opinions

There is a saying: "Opinions are like assholes -- everybody has one".

And how true this is. However, facts and truth are not opinions and sadly very often opinions are passed off as facts in the world of oriental rugs.

This is especially true in the small arena of antique and historic rugs, which is, as all of you know, the area RK is interested in.

Our little preamble here could be applicable to many topics but we do have a specific one in mind. This is the reason for this thread and while we are positive it is most likely to kick up a dust storm of opinions please remember RK does not confuse what is our opinion with what is fact.

Recently in the past year two quite significant personalities in the world of historic rugs have died. The first to leave us was Caroline McCoy Jones and the other was Heinrich Kirchheim.

RK knew both of them and we will, in the next days, speak about not only our memories of them but also our views about what has been written about them by others.

Stay tuned for more...

Author: G farf Thu, Oct 12th, 2006 05:28:51 AM

"swollen ego" I think not. What is all this Dingo stuff anyway? Cow-pies, dingos, chump,? Did you grow up in a Popeye cartoon? How macho, in a stilted mid 20th century sort of way. I have to admit, this blog of yours has its charms. Want to forget your little love vendeta with Steve P rice and run off to the Netherlands? You can bring your opinion with you!

Author: farfalakis
Mon, Oct 9th, 2006 11:52:14 AM

What more to expect from you, farfalkis, other than more self-congratulatory BS.

Too bad your intellect is dwarfed by your swollen ego.

So don’t congratulate yourself for anything other than being the dopey, self-possessed dingo who has now joined those who are excommunicated from the church of RugKazbah.com.

We suggest you go o pray to the God of your choice, sinner, and hope he looks more kindly upon you than RK does.

Ta Ta for now, chump ...


I seem to have hit a nerve. Good luck being you.

Author: farfalakis
email: farfalakis@yahoo.gr
Mon, Oct 9th, 2006 10:04:08 AM

We find you entire spiel to be worthless, self-serving and impertinent.

Who gives a flying freak about what you think? Your wifey? Your kiddies? Your customers?

Surely not RK or any of the many readers who come here for a breath of fresh air, not the stale gaseous bilge you released.

We will be delighted if you forget our URL and make good your offer to leave.

By the way, your posting anonymously, your pedantic palaver and pseudo-superiority are, to a tee, typical of the poseurs who believe they are “rug lovers”.

As we said we will remove your post below tomorrow and leave this one as a memento of another dingo who traipsed into here thinking his dirty shoes and BS attitude would be appreciated.

And by the way, we believe we can learn from anyone, as even the most novice eyes can, at times, see what other far more trained ones miss.

But the valueless verbiage you post is surely nothing we’d bother to read, even on the most boring train ride.

So take a hike, farfalakis, and don’t forget to smell the cow-pies you pass on the way to and from the nowhere land you obviously inhabit.


I’m sorry that you are offended by my post.

It was not my intent to be vulgar and actually I am a little surprised at such an intense reaction.

Indeed, I do not see how my post was any more vulgar than the one preceding it. If anything, I find it a rather clinical rhetorical trope.

I simply disagree with your premise. You proposed a simile, “Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.”

I believe your intent was to demonstrate that opinions are common and worthless.

An asshole to most is something that is base, unclean, and itself vulgar. You could have said for instance, Opinions are like pancreases or noses or a host of other anatomical features but you specifically chose asshole.

Why not say, Opinions are like eyes, most people have at least two and they influence how we perceive things?

I don’t know if you thought it through or it if it was your conscious intent, but your saying has a decisively misanthropic tone.

Instead of denigrating the fact that human beings have the ability to process thought, interact intellectually and emotionally with others and their environment, and reach conclusions why not celebrate this?

Indeed, isn’t one of the purposes for a forum like RK to foster a sense of community where you can mentor collectors and rug enthusiasts and perhaps, as wild as this may seem, even on occasion learn something from a novice?

Announcing to your audience that their opinions have the same value to you as a biological mechanism for the release of human waste is far more vulgar than anything I have written.

I understand that there have been times when people may have acted less than kind towards you and that it is only natural that somebody when wronged would stand up for himself and his dignity.

You have a clear deep knowledge and love for tribal and ethnographic weavings. Hopefully this passion is stronger than your antipathy for the rest of the rug world.

Somehow I suspect it may be. Please reconsider removing ANY post. It wouldn’t be in keeping with RK’s democratic and egalitarian principles. If you like, this will be my final contribution to RK.

Author: farfalakis
email: farfalakis@yahoo.gr
Sun, Oct 8th, 2006 06:06:01 PM

RK Replies: We find your reply not only vulgar but incredibly stupid.

We will leave it here for 24 hours and then remove it.

Vulgarity, when used intelligently or humorously, is something we can always appreciate.

But (no pun intended) when, as we wrote in another thread “you can’t fix stupid” applies to its use, as it does here, “farfalakis”, we’ll always invoke our prerogative and remove it.

We’ve noticed your IP locates to Athens. Are you a rug dealer there? If so we suggest you cease and desist from posting here unless, of course, you genuinely have something of importance or interest to add.

So if you haven’t already gotten the message, let us make it perfectly clear if you ever post anything of a similar vein on RugKazbah.com it will be removed asap and you will be prevented from having access.


We have decided to let this message remain but with several deletions. We are not afraid to use four letter words or language of the street but we do not condone the use of such words in a vulgar and meaningless way.

As the saying goes “there’s a time and place for everything”, but this is not the time or place for the manner of expression chosen by this anonymous poster—hence our decision to make these deletions.


Hmmm ... "Opinions are like assholes -- everybody has one". Interesting to ponder. However, at the same time in many ways they are quite different. For instance, a person may have many opinions, multiple (word deleted) is much more rare. One can change his opinion much easier than changing his (word deleted). An (word deleted) may be used to poop with. Though arriving at an opinion may be purging at times, you can't stick your finger in your opinion. Finally, some people ARE assholes. Has anyone heard of anyone who IS an opinion?

Author: jc
Sat, Oct 7th, 2006 11:50:28 AM

Caroline McCoy Jones was, in our humble opinion, a veritable national treasure but unlike Kirchheim, who pushed himself into any limelight no matter how dimly it shined, she was demure and private.

We spent far more face time with him than we ever did with Caroline but, because she was as genuine as a silver dollar, the time we spent together allowed RK to develop that warm fuzzy feeling friendship always imparts.

She never bothered to learn to talk the talk most collectors mouth, nor did she pretend she knew warp from weft or 17th century from 19th.

Kirchheim, on the other hand, was able to palaver with rug expurts but, in our estimation, that’s as far as his understanding of the idiom went.

For those of our readers who do not know Caroline’s rug story, let us just say she burst on the rug scene only because of her husband’s long time interest and poor health.

McCoy, as he was known to his friends, which by the way did not number RK as we had virtually no contact with him, was what we like to call a checkbook collector. He relied on rug dealers and bought by price and not by any other standard – his “collection” demonstrates that. Well, again, at least in our opinion.

This is not to say he did not net some great pieces but, considering he started collecting in Odessa, Russia in 1921, he should have ended up with far more masterpieces than he did.

Basically, this is not the place to analyze McCoy’s collecting nor his collection – we write here to memorialize our impressions of dear Caroline, as well as to dispel the bogus cloak of homilies hali draped on her coffin.

It is sure, Caroline deserves all the praise and mountains more but, regrettably, not for the reasons the hali people seemed to feel wont to disseminate.

Like Kirchheim, Caroline too was bamboozled by rug dealers and the rug scene.

But unlike him, she was intelligent and conscious enough to know what was up and it caused her to withdraw from the scene.

About this we will not say more because we respect her and do not believe it is, in this instance, our responsibility to publicly speak on her behalf.

That said, we will state had she received better treatment from those dealers, consultants and the scene we are 100% positive she would have gone on to purchase and donate many important pieces. Truly, it is a shame she was treated poorly but that’s par for the course for rugdom.

We spoke with Caroline shortly before she left our world and, of course, had we known how short her time was we would have opened up to her in a way we never allowed our conversations to explore.

Regardless of what some people might say, we are quite polite to those that are polite to us and, therefore, we always were incredibly careful not to spill the beans when talking with her, eventhough we knew she was a big girl and could accept what we would have wanted to say. However, we did not feel we ever had the right timing or place to open up to her and, therefore, because of her untimely demise, we never got the opportunity.

As an aside here, let us state something that is also a propos to what we wrote about the “jury being out” on Kirchheim.

We know there is more to this life than meets the eye and, though we don’t know and only believe what is considered to be life doesn’t end at death, we act accordingly.

So, therefore, we believe Kirchheim will have the chance to right his wrongs and also that we will eventually be able to tell Caroline what we never got the opportunity to tell her while she was here and now.

We miss knowing Caroline is not here to help us prove the non-urban rugs we collect are as old and as important, if not more important, than many Classical rugs.

We know she probably sensed this is the case and her pushing McCoy on his deathbed to purchase pieces he most surely would not have is enough proof for us.

Author: Robert
Wed, Oct 4th, 2006 06:42:44 AM

RK Replies:

To call the tale we told about Kirchheim an "anecdote" doesn't go down very well with us, Robert. You appear to have a good command of the English language and we suggest you take your dictionary and look up the word.

As for Kirchheim being decisive in his business dealing, we can't comment. However, about rugs we surely could and clearly if being decisive means relying on the judgement of others than, yes, Kirchheim was decisive.

In our book, decisive implies decisions made on one's opinion and, of course, one formulates opinions based on information gathered from many sources. In the end, though, being decisive to us means having the buck stop on the desk of the decider. So the fact Kirchhheim's action was based not on his decision but that of others would prevent us from ever agreeing that he was "decisive" in this regard.

As to your other question concerning what his opinion of the king of the yellow rugs was many years later? We'd have to say we don't know, as we never breeched the subject with him during any of our subsequent meetings or conversations.

Also please don't infer from our capitalizing the K that, in this instance, it implies anything. It doesn't and that's all we intend to say on that subject as well.

In closing we are a bit unclear about why you might need more explanation about Kirchheim's decision. He reneged because of what his his "advisors" said and because Kirchheim's life in rugdom, like many people's, was motivated by fear of making any real statement, especially anything that might be controversial. So, therefore, he went along, like a lamb to the slaughterhouse, with what they said.


JC, Great anecdote! I can’t wait for your book! However, I’m curious about something. Did Kirchheim expand at all about why he finally decided against buying your rug, perhaps during your conversations with him after he became sick? Was he still bothered by the negative assessments of Herrmann et al? Usually, men like Kircheim are very decisive, but someone who says yes, no, yes, no, doesn’t sound at all decisive. Also, men like him usually do not back out on deals or renege on promises, and although they are very tough bargainers, they still have a great sense of honor. Still, unlike others who have crossed you, you obviously continue to have respect for him, otherwise you would have spelled his name with a small “k”.

Author: jc
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Tue, Oct 3rd, 2006 05:44:04 PM

By now it was about a quarter to one or so and, although we were a bit tired and bored of this situation, we made some small talk with Kirchheim. But when his wife entered the room with the tea and some cake, we turned the conversation to "the matter at hand".

Kirchheim tried to ameliorate his actions by first offering us 5,000 marks “for our trouble”.

We quickly declined his offer and he upped it to 10,000.

When we just as quickly declined again, he said “Jack, you and I both enjoy fine old wines and you know I have an excellent cellar here in my house. Why don’t you take the 10,000 marks and, in addition, choose any bottle from my cellar to take with you.

We declined once more and he then he upped the offer for us to take any two bottles.

With no uncertainty we explained to Kirchheim the only thing he could do to placate us was to go through with the purchase.

His faced hardened, that steely-eyed stare returned, and he said he couldn’t and wouldn't.

Realizing there was going to be no reasoning with him we bluntly asked Kirchheim why he had done what he did.

When he answered "I did it because I thought I was right", we looked him back straight in the eye and replied "You know, Heinrich, often people do things they believe are right that actually are completely wrong.”

“People even kill other people because they think they are right".

Returning the stare Kirchheim said "Well, I don't know what you are saying but I have a gun in the house".

We replied "Bet you do".

He then stood up and began to mimic our routine from the Graf Zeppelin hotel by walking around us and saying:.

"You know" he said "I am a very important man here in Stuttgart and no one ever doubts my word.”

“You know I am involved in the Bourse(stock market, ed.) here in Germany and recently I spoke to one of the brokers at one of the firms I do business with. I instructed him to execute a trade but when I reviewed what he had done, I learned he had made an error and that mistake cost me a lot of money.”

“I called him when I learned this and after he refused to admit the error was his and insisted it was mine I had him fired and, of course, his firm returned the money I had lost to my account".

"In fact", Kirchheim went on, "I believe I am so powerful here in Stuttgart that I could even get away with murder.” “Yes, I could murder and not be tried."

With that outrageous statement, Kirchheim sat down and picked up his tea cup.

While Kirchheim was reciting this short monologue we looked back at his wife a few times and, when he made his "I could get away with murder" statement, we happened to be looking right at her and saw shock in her eyes and the slight bit of blush that appeared on her cheeks.

By the way, Waltrude Kirchheim was, unlike her husband, a highly educated and fine mannered lady whose family, we have been told, is noble.

Not to make this story any longer than necessary we will just mention Kirchheim's family was not nearly as fortunate, nor as highly placed, and his education and upbringing never included instruction in the fine social mores and actions hers did.

We left Kirchheim's "I bet I could get away with murder" statement hang in the air and just stared back at him.

He said nothing, neither did his wife, but we could sense his growing discomfort and anxiety as the seconds clicked by with no response forthcoming from us.

His wife, too, was equally as uncomfortable but obviously for far different reasons than he.

We allowed this pregnant pause to continue hanging in the air and then finally said, as we stood up to leave “Heinrich, you have made a number of mistakes today and perhaps the greatest one is what you have just said to me in front of your wife”.

We then said, “Goodnight” and walked straight out of the living room, through the entry way and got into the elevator.

What Kirchheim did was not only outrageously dishonest but the impunity with which he threatened us by obliquely intimating he could “murder” and escape punishment displayed character faults that are not only inexcusable but completely alien to any sense of propriety or civilization.

To say anyone who could act in this manner lacked respect for humanity would also not be uncalled for.

We did not appreciate his actions but we did not permit ourself to sink to the level Kirchheim so readily allowed himself to adopt.

Clearly, this was not the first time he abused a relationship by pushing his agenda way beyond any limits of propriety.

“Business is business”, as the saying goes, but to totally disregard any sense of correctness, like Kirchheim felt entitled to, is something no one, not even someone who is important should ever perpetrate.

What Kirchheim did could be likened to throwing a large brick into a fish tank – the ripples, no waves, caused reaction far beyond their original intent.

This is not the place to recount what he put us through but let’s just say not only did we lose the money the sale of the king of the yellow rugs would have brought but those waves also took much more cash out of our piggy-bank.

After we walked out of the Kirchheim’s house we did not speak to him for a long time. This was something Kirchheim made clear to us he did not like.

Whenever we would be in the same place, he would always come up to us and our reaction was the same – we turned a cold shoulder to him.

One time, at a reception in a kelim collector’s house in Munich, a number of collectors were having cocktails and finger food in this gentleman’s rather large living room. Kirchheim entered the room and, as was his custom, soon assumed himself to be the center of attention.

Immediately seeing us enter the room he bellowed out “Oh, there’s Mr. Cassin” He’s very upset with us and doesn’t want to talk to me.”

How right he was.

Eventually, we did decide to re-open our relationship with Kirchheim and, in fact, some years later we spoke to him at length just when he discovered he was very sick. These phone conversations continued through his ordeal in and out of hospital.

In fact, we spoke to him while he was in the hospital for the final time and actually while he was on his death bed.

The last conversation we had was about 24 hours before he died.

Sometimes in this life when an individual causes another person great hardship for no reason other than selfishness that person will go further than mouth an apology and try to make amends.

As far as we are concerned, we think the jury is still out on Kirchheim and, although he is gone, he is not forgotten.

We do know of other situations where Kirchheim behaved in a similar boorish and totally improper way – pushing his desires and agenda to the detriment of others.

Again, this is not the place to discuss his actions but we hope readers will understand the motivation for our recounting this and particularly the king of the yellow rugs story.

We can not, nor will we, stand by silent, when Kirchheim is lionized by the likes of those who wrote such sugar-coated words as those appearing in hali.

We know a lot about his life with oriental rugs, and, though what we know about his business or personal life is not nearly as extensive, we do know enough about him to unequivocally state – he was not the generous, kind and concerned person the hali reviewers tried to pitch in his favor.

Nothing he did, as far as we know, was done for any reason other than to feather his own nest, make himself more important, or richer.

Like many other important people, who are likewise differentially treated by those whose financial, social and business statures are not nearly as high, Kirchheim received much undo praise while his transgressions were never mentioned.

However, just because others were/are afraid to tell the truth about him in the service of their own agendas, to make themselves more important, or to insure financial support and return, doesn’t mean their silence is proper.

As RugKazbah.com’s readers know, we are not motivated by such concerns or fears and we only call it as we see it. And because our eyes are open and not filtered by rose-colored glasses, what we write is factual—not opinion or superficial blah-blah.

Kirchheim was a rich man and he never let anyone forget this. Is this wrong? Is he to be chastised for this?

We’d have to say no, not really. However, to comport one’s self as one if one is untouchable and omnipotent, as Kirchheim did that day in the Graf Zeppelin Hotel, is never acceptable.

There’s anther saying “Life’s made up not of the big things but of the small ones” and, although Heinrich Kirchheim’s collection of oriental rugs is important, as far as RK is concerned, the way he went about making it will end up being equally, if not far more, important.

Author: viym
Mon, Oct 2nd, 2006 03:00:53 PM

pay attention, John. Its now December 1989.

Author: John Lewis
email: john_lewis@mac.com
Mon, Oct 2nd, 2006 12:49:17 PM

My apologies. It was like a thriller and thriller writers have to ensure that they get their locations right - I look forward to the next episode (really). What year was this?

Author: John Lewis
email: john_lewis@mac.com
Sun, Oct 1st, 2006 01:51:01 PM

RK Replies:

Frankly, John, the length of the ride to the hotel was not something we'd remember considering the rest of the story.

Plus the fact there is a one-way system in this area of Stuttgart and finding the entrance to the parking lot might have made the ride somewhat longer than the 50 meters the crow flies, as you suggest.

Regardless, are we to assume your nit-picking response is motivated from harboring some other question/s concerning our recounting this incident?


It must have been a very short ride because the Graf Zeppelin is right opposite the hauptbahnhof - 50 metres.

Author: jc
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Sun, Oct 1st, 2006 12:15:26 PM

We arrived in Stuttgart on that Saturday afternoon and called up Kirchheim, as we usually did, before going up the hill to visit at his apartment.

He answered the phone and after a few pleasantries told us not to come up to the house but to meet him at the Graf Zeppelin hotel for our meeting.

We were a bit surprised by this turn of events and, after asking where the hotel was located and listening to the directions, asked if we could meet beforehand somewhere that we could easily find, like the main train station.

Kirchheim readily agreed and we arranged to meet in an hour at the hauptbanhof.

He showed up driving his new Audi 8 with his wife in the passenger seat and we followed him thru the city to the hotel.

We both parked in the large hotel parking lot and soon were seated on some comfortable sofas in the lobby with glasses of champagne.

After making some small talk about rugs and other things, Kirchheim said " Well, now Jack, to the business at hand."

We should backtrack here a little so we can set the scene in a bit more detail.

Several days before our meeting, and because we suspected something might be up here, we made a photocopy of the check, drawn on the Stuttgarter Bank Kirchheim had given us.

We knew he was a hard-ball player and felt by having this photocopy we'd be in a more secure position. But little did we know how hard-ball he would really play.

Then, when we parked our cars in the parking lot, Kirchheim made a show of the fact he had a thick manila envelope with him both, as he flashed it at us when we shook hands, and then again when he ceremoniously placed it on the cocktail table in front of the hotel banquettes we were ensconced on.

So, then, when he said “Now to the business at hand”, we took the check (the original) our of our shirt pocket and handed it to him.

After a few moments it became clear he was not going to pay the check and we then asked him to hand it back to us.

He, then, looked at us with a steel-eyed stare and proceeded to rip the check up into tiny pieces.

To say we were amazed as we watched him doing this would be an understatement and, as soon as we came back to reality, our first instinct was to kick him in his face.

Had we been in America, that's probably what we'd have done but reason overtook our more direct instincts and we just sat there quietly at first.

Knowing we were in no position to touch him and, if we did we were sure a jail cell would have been our next stop, we stood up and began to berate him with statements like "What kind of gypsy business is this? Does that fat manila envelope have a thousand deutsch mark on top and a bunch of newspaper below it? Who the fuck do you think your messing with here Kirchheim? etc etc.

All the time he kept repeating "Please, Jack, take your rug back."

Finally, realizing there was no hope in his paying for the piece we did just that.

Kirchheim and his wife led the way back to the parking lot and, after we had the rug in our hands, we walked over to our car, which was at the time a big 450 S-class Mercedes.

We quickly turned the key in the ignition and before Kirchheim even got his far smaller Audi 8 into gear we pushed the accelerator on the 450 to the floor and aim the beast right at him and his wife.

The terrified look on the faces is another memory etched in our mind, and we are sure theirs too, and as we were speeding straight for them, we are sure they thought this was the end of their lives.

At the last second we twisted the 450 to the right and are sure we missed hitting their car by only a few millimeters at best.

Passing through the rest of the parking lot and out into the street we knew we were in a mess, as the money we were to receive for selling the yellow rug, and the main reason we had decided to sell it in the first place, was to pay for the pre-press, printing and binding of Kelim, Soumak, Carpet and Cloth and Cult Kelim(two of the books we published).

We had already committed to the color separators, printers and binders to do this work and could not now tell them we could not pay them.

All these thoughts, and more, went racing through our consciousness as we drove away from the hotel. We knew this was now a major disaster and quickly tried to find a way to salvage the mess we had now been put into by Kirchheim’s outrageous duplicity and dishonesty.

But before we could do anything, we noticed we needed gas and went to find a station to fill up. After paying for the gas we suddenly remember we had, on a previous visit to Stuttgart, met a very nice gentleman who was an attorney.

We had met by chance at a restaurant and, after having a long discussion about art and the art business, he had given us his card and home number.

We decided to call him to see what could be done and luckily he was at home.

He told us we should have never given the check back to Kirchheim but since we had the photocopy he might be able to help us.

He then asked us who this man was and when we told him his name was Heinrich Kirchheim and he was an industrialist and president of the Stuttgarter Bank.

The attorney told us he had never heard of him but, in fact, he was not the president of the bank.

When we asked how he knew this, he told us he knew Kirchheim was not the president because a Mr. Baumeister was.

The attorney then offered to meet us on Monday afternoon, as that was the first available time he had, and we told him we'd call on Monday morning to confirm and thanked him for his help.

After weighing all the options, we decided to stay in Stuttgart and meet with Kirchheim again to try and talk some sense into him.

We called Kirchheim's house and his wife answered. After we asked to speak to him, she told us he was showering and then they had to leave to go to meet some friends for an early dinner and then go to the opera.

Upon hearing this, we said “OK, but please tell your husband we will meet him on Monday morning in Herr Baumeister's office.” and hung up.

After having a nice dinner at the Alter Post restaurant, our favorite in Stuttgart, and drinking a half bottle of some old Bordeaux, we did feel at bit better and ready to take on Kirchheim for round 2.

We got to the opera house at about 9:30 and, after inquiring and finding out from the guard there was only one exit, we prepared to wait outside side for the Kirchheims.

The opera ended around 10:30 or so and we watched all the people file out when the performance ended.

Not seeing either Kirchheim or his wife, we asked the guard if there was any other way out.

The guard was quite friendly and he asked us who we were waiting for and we told him Heinrich Kirchheim. "Oh", he said "Herr Kirchheim is a patron of the Opera House here in Stuttgart and he and the other patrons have a private elevator and parking space below. That's the reason you did not see him leave."

We thanked him for the information and especially for his excellent English.

We then drove up the hill to Kirchheim's apartment and seeing no lights on, or getting any response when we rang the bell, we prepared to wait.

This was at about 11 and it was not until 12:15 or so that we saw the Audi coming up the hill.

Kirchheim was at the wheel and we are sure we saw the flash of terror in his eyes once again when he saw our car parked near his garage.

We then got out of the car and walked towards them.

Kirchheim hesitated before getting out but, seeing that we were smiling, he and Waltrude, his wife, finally got out of the car. We shook hands and he said " Hello, Jack, I am very glad to see you. Please come in I’d like to talk to you"

We know the only reason for this was because we had dropped the Baumeister name on him.

As we walked to the house, we asked how the opera was and told him Tosca was one of our favorites.

He replied "The performance was good but not nearly as good as yours in the parking lot!”

The three of us took the elevator up to their apartment and his wife excused herself to prepare the tea while Kirchheim took us into the living room.

Once again, we have some other matters to attend to today and will continue this asap.

Stay tuned...

Author: jc
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Mon, Sep 25th, 2006 05:32:57 AM

The reality many, if not almost all collectors, are manipulated by dealers and market forces is a given. Also that often this manipulation has dubious grounds, reasons and merits is equally a given.

This holds true no matter what financial level they are buying at or how long they have been involved.

Naturally, this happens in all collecting areas but because of the lack of any real measures of provenance(like signatures or makers marks, etc) and any real standards (to judge condition or age, etc) in antique and historic oriental rug collecting there are few, if any, realities for collectors to rely upon.

The following story we recount about Kirchheim is surely not meant to denigrate him.

We chose to now air it publicly not only to explain our "manipulation" statement but to demonstrate how absurd believing there actually is a real market for antique and historic oriental rugs.

Let us also add by doing so we will not be surprised if we are showered with a stream of nasty emails from those who were involved or those rug-people in general whose thin-skins and paranoid attitudes might be disturbed by what follows.

Honestly, RK could care less about what these people think and we are prepared to defend not only our right to say what we wish but to prove conclusively what we say is truth and fact.

Some long years ago, we think around sometime around 1985, a former museum director turned dealer by the name of fredrich spuhler began to offer a "collection" of Konya fragments he had bought in Turkey to some “top” collectors.

Most of these pieces had a yellow ground color and dated, in our opinion, from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century.

It took spuhler several years to collect these fragments and we believe it was sometime around '85 that we heard he was trying to sell the collection for a rather inordinate amount of money -- something in the neighborhood of 250,000+ deutsch marks (around 150,000 dollars).

We were not the only person who believed this price was over-the-top and, even though we had not yet personally viewed spuhler's yellow rug fragments, we were not surprised to hear others, who had, were equally as dubious.

After some time, and the fact no one to whom he offered the "collection" displayed any interest in purchasing them, we heard the price was starting to come down like a zeppelin with a big hole in its side.

We then heard Kirchheim had purchased the "collection" for around 75,000 dollars.

By the way around this time we also heard spuhler had assumed a major role in "helping" Kirchheim in his rug collecting pursuits.

At this point in time RK was spending most of our time in Europe and soon after our learning of this purchase, we arranged to visit Kirchheim and see these pieces.

After viewing them with him and listening to the rap spuhler had laid on him to convince Kirchheim of the "importance" of this collection we "congratulated" Kirchheim on his purchase.

We also mentioned we felt spuhler had over-dated and over-emphasized the "importance" of these pieces.

We also told Kirchheim there was a yellow rug fragment that really was historic and important and that he should consider buying it.

Here is a detail of this piece, which has never been published and is basically known only to very few people:

By the way, this piece, which is about 2 meters by 1.5 meters in size and is a fragment of a larger rug, belongs to RK and has been in our collection since 1981.

There are two large crosses, a detail of the blue one is shown and the other cross below it is red.

At the time we told Kirchheim about this piece, we also told him we owned it but did not have a photo to show him.

Kirchheim was very curious about not only what we said about the "collection" he had purchased from spuhler but also about our piece and he asked us to send him a photo.

Well, long before we learned not to send photos to collectors.

We learned this after sending a photo to someone and then, several weeks later, to have the same piece of ours offered back to us by someone else.

This incident, which we believe we were not unique in experiencing, may not be typical for rugdom but it surely encapsulates what frequently happens when one exposes a weaving on the market.

RK has never been paranoid like other collectors we know and we have always shared our collection both through personal contact and through publication.

By taking such a stance we have often experienced some quite negative results but, in the end, we feel the advantages of having done so will, and have ,rewarded us enough to make up for this.

We explained to Kirchheim our reticence to send photos and promised on our next visit to show a picture of the Konya yellow rug to him.

Several months later we met again and, after showing him a photo of the piece and explaining to him why we believed it to be 16th century and the king of the yellow rug group, he asked us to send him the rug on approval.

Again we explained our policy of not sending photos or rugs on approval and told him "...come to New York and we will gladly show it to you.”.

Kirchheim's travel plans did not include any stops in New York and, over the next several years, we did meet but never in the Big Apple.

In fact, it was not until 1989 that Kirchheim finally got to see the king of the yellow rugs in person when we decided to bring it to Europe and show it to him in November of that year.

As usual, when we were having "serious" discussions about carpets, we arranged to meet in his apartment in Stuttgart.

After telephoning several weeks earlier to tell him he could see the carpet, Kirchheim told us he was very busy meanwhile and we should well beforehand fix a "date" to meet, as his time was very short due to some business matters he was involved in.

We agreed to meet on a Saturday morning, the 25th of November, but he asked us to please call on the Friday before to confirm the time.

When we called again Kirchheim told us "I am very sorry, Jack, but I have an important meeting at 11AM that will take some time and, because my time for the rest of the day is already booked, will one hour be enough time?"

We told him yes that would be fine and arranged to arrive at his apartment at 10AM.

When we arrived Kirchheim and his wonderful wife, Waltrude, greeted us and he and I immediately went into the living room to look at the king of the yellow rugs.

Kirchheim was dutifully impressed and after some hard bargaining we reached an agreement.

This process took more than an hour and at 11AM sharp the bell rang and Kirchheim excused himself for several minutes.

When he returned he told us "Oh, that was Mr. _______ (honestly we don't remember the name) and he is the man I have an appointment with at 11. But don't worry, as he will wait -- he wants to sell me his company, so he has no choice!"

At around 11:45AM, when we had concluded the sale, Kirchheim again excused himself. This time he was gone for about 10 minutes and when he returned he had the man who wanted to sell his company with him.

He then introduced us to this man and how well the memory of the troubled, anxious and worried look on his face comes back to us even today, 17 years later.

The man then went to sit in another room and Kirchheim and I concluded the sale.

Kirchheim then wrote us a check for the full purchase price and, after some goodbyes we left, with the proviso we might come back to Stuttgart in about two weeks to meet again.

Since we were in Germany and had no bank account there, we held the check intending to deposit it when we returned home.

About 10 days later we called Kirchheim to tell him we would, in fact, be returning to Stuttgart.

But as soon as we said hello, Kirchheim quickly cut us off and said "Oh, Mr. Cassin, I am so glad you have called, I have been dreaming about you!"

Well, this augured not quite well with us and after saying "Gee, Heinrich, we surely think you must have better things to dream about than us", he dished out the following:
"Well, you know, Jack, if only one person told me the rug was not what you said it was I would not have been alarmed. But all three people told me that it was not 16th century and nor was the yellow rug rug you sold me 'important' and therefore I do not want to buy it"

We then asked him who these three people were and he told us he had shown it to "...herrmann, Bausback and spuhler."

We then quite politely told him all of them had ulterior motives for dissing the piece and explained the following:
"Doesn't herrmann have a new exhibition opening soon and surely he doesn't want you to spend a sizeable amount of money buying something from me. So his opinion about the rug is surely not honest." And Bausback, who is not an expert of historic pieces, could not possibly give you a correct assessment of the piece. As for spuhler, well, here is what recently happened."

As an aside let us state we had always been impressed by spuhler and had had some quite enjoyable times with him when he was working at the Museum in Berlin, as the carpet curator.

Actually, we had not seen spuhler for a number of years and, in the ensuing time, we had learned he had left the museum and become a rug dealer.

In fact, we had, by chance, met him several weeks earlier, in Milan, Italy. We met on the street and spuhler told us he was holidaying near to Lake Como and would we like to visit him there.

We thought this sounded great and arranged to see him in Como in several days.

During this meeting we had some interesting discussions about rugs and rug dealing and, then, totally out of our respect for him and because we liked him, we showed the king of the yellow rugs to him, thinking after collecting so many of the rugs himself, he would like to see what we thought was the best example of the group.

After looking at it for some time spuhler asked us if it was for sale. We said no but he continued to push us to sell it to him.

Finally, when he realized we would not do so, he became incredibly aggressive and even threatened to beat us up if we did not acquiesce.

You all might imagine our reaction to spuhler's stupidity and bull-headed attitude and after explaining to him in no uncertain terms we were not afraid of him and if he liked we'd be glad to see him carry though with his threat we stood up.

Then, after it was clear he was bluffing, we took the rug and left him sitting there alone.

Since then we have never talked again with spuhler and in that instant he destroyed any respect we had for him as a person or colleague.

Perhaps, in hindsight, we realize Kirchheim might have told spuhler about our king of the yellow rugs and told him to try and get it from us or, at least, to wear us down to make his buying the rug from us easier.

But at the time, this thought was far from our mind.

So after we told Kirchheim the story of what had happened with spuhler and again intimated the "opinions" he received about our rug were, at best, disingenuous if not totally dishonest we reaffirmed our position he had to go through with the purchase.

We also told Kirchheim "You have bought the piece and must pay for it. However, if you don't want it, I will resell it to another client I have in mind. I will even sell it for more than you paid and we can then split the profit.”

Kirchheim then paused and soon said "Alright, come to meet me and I will even pay you in cash for the piece to make up for my mistake I made in believing what they have told me. When will you come?"

We made an arrangement to meet, again on a Saturday and again with the proviso for a confirmation call on the Friday before to fix a time for our meeting"

During that call we arranged to meet in Stuttgart in the later afternoon at around 3 o'clock.

Sorry to leave the story hanging but that's all the time we can devote to this now and will continue this asap.

So stay tuned

Author: jc
Sun, Sep 24th, 2006 06:27:35 AM

Caroline and Kirchheim were, as anyone who knew them personally, completely different people but they did share some important personality traits. Perhaps the one that was most apparent was their ability to get what they wanted, albeit in entirely different ways.

Being a woman, Caroline was far more subtle but surely no one would say the same about Kirchheim. However, as different as their systems were to do this, they both were masters at it.

For this reason they both won some big respect points from RK and while we did not agree with many of the moves they made in their passings through the carpet world, which is the only part of their lives we speak in reference to, we’d have to say they succeeded admirably.

All that said, there were, quite naturally, some areas of their carpet lives that were not so sterling.

There’s an old saying “Never speak unkindly of the dead” and, even though RK respects this adage, we also realize speaking the truth is equally as important.

In this regard we surely are not interested in sullying either of their quite well deserved reputations. But neither will we go along with the fairy-tale obituaries that have thus far appeared in print.

Please understand our intentions here and realize RK is only interested in the facts and not BS opinions or the axe-grinding homilies so far paid to them.

Maybe the first place for us to start is to explain a bit further the following statement we made: “Both of them were manipulated by rug dealers and the market.”

In Kirchheim’s case this manipulation cost him a lot of money and while he was a wealthy man by almost anyone’s standards, save Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, losing money is never something anyone likes—not even millionaires.

When RK first met Kirchheim he had already been collecting carpets for some time. His collection then was basically mid-19th century Caucasian rugs in, as we used to say in America, German condition, i.e. perfectly thick pile with little or no restoration. In fact, we met him just at the cusp of the time Kirchheim began to realize these rugs were nothing more than expensive furnishing pieces and not really collector rugs of the standard he formerly believed.

Kudos to Kirchheim because many other European collectors were still under the impression rugs of this ilk were.

How or why he came to this conclusion is unknown to us but the fact he did is very apparent.

It was at this point that we came together and RK sensed Kirchheim could and would become a great collector.

Let us now explain exactly what our carpet collecting methodology is and, although we believe it should be obvious to all considering how long we have been involved in the carpet world, we often have been surprised by people’s reactions to what we have said and done, regardless of the fact we are very consistent in our moves in rugdom.

From the get-go RK has been a collector and, while we have sold many carpets over the years, our first raison d’etre has always been to collect.

Unfortunately we were not born rich or, quite frankly, ever interested in making any more money than we needed to live. And often our passion for collecting weavings not only overpowered our desire for dollars but put us into financial straights our accountant still cringes at. But somehow we always managed to walk through the impending minefield of financial disaster and to emerge on the other side relatively unscathed.

That said, we are now a bit more careful because we realize, just as we wrote in the autumn sotheby sale thread, that the market for carpets is weak and no one can count on it to return a profit.

OK, enough about RK and let’s get back to the essence of this thread.

During this period when we first met Kirchheim, we had some interesting conversations with him about what really constitutes a collector piece and we remember viewing with him most, if not all, of the pieces he had collected so far.

Few of them were of any interest to us and we were very straightforward with him in expressing this viewpoint.

We could sense he was taken aback by what we said and, while we are sure he was somewhat offended by our candid opinions, he took it like a man.

Actually we are sure what we said had a big effect on him and although we surely do not know if this was the first time anyone had told him his rugs were, as we like to call them nothing more than high-class furnishing rugs and not important examples worthy of being called collector rugs, from his reaction to our words we can believe it was a first for him.

Regardless, he was already on the way to changing his collecting methodology by moving into older Caucasian rugs and Turkish Village carpets. He also soon thereafter became interested in kelims and other flatweaves, particularly soumak bags, although his forays into these areas were, in the end, only brief.

When one thumbs through the pages of his sale at rippon-boswell and his book, “Orient-Stars”, it is easy to see his progression from those high-class furnishing pieces to earlier rugs.

Eventually Kirchheim made it to the top of rug collecting, an arena RK calls historic and by doing so guaranteed himself a place in the pantheon of great all-time collectors.

But for us his journey to get there is as, if not more important, to recount than his having arrived there.

When we met with him and for the first time had him, as we have already said, show us his collection, there were few pieces that interested us—perhaps the most memorable was this fragmented Caucasian rug:

Purchased from little lord franses some years before, it was, then, the best piece in Kirchheim’s collection. Well, at least, in our opinion.

We can’t remember if it was at this time, or a later meeting, that we proposed Kirchheim sell most, if not almost all, of his present collection and use the money he would get to acquire rugs that were more important.

We should also explain why we proposed it like that. It was because Kirchheim told us he was either so cash strapped from making business acquisitions or having financial difficulties that he could not buy anything we offered him.

We knew this was often just talk and an excuse offered as explanation, especially since we knew he had just bought pieces from other dealers.

But it also probably had some truth to it when he mentioned it in later times; for we do know Kirchheim was the type of businessman who often took great risks and sometimes those risks did not work out.

But overall he was a very rich man who could buy what he wanted, when he wanted—too bad he did not know enough about rugs to rely on his own thoughts and not those of others.

This might also be a very opportune moment to explain how Kirchheim, and many other collectors, are manipulated by dealers and the vagaries of the rug market.

At the time we met, and as we understand the story, Kirchheim was buying most of his pieces from three dealers—herrmann, Bausback and little lord franses. It seems at first franses and Bausback were getting most of his business and then, soon before we met Kirchheim and during the period we first became acquainted with him, herrmann moved into the slot franses and Bausback had formerly occupied.

Anyway, it is sure herrmann exerted a great amount of influence with him and it might be said led Kirchheim around like a bull on a rope.

Unfortunately, that’s about all the time we have for today and we will continue this asap.

Stay tuned...

Author: jc
Tue, Sep 19th, 2006 03:12:03 PM

Reading thru the obituaries of Caroline and Kirchheim published in hail was, as usual, a trip thru a magical mystery tour of nonsense for RK.

Granted, hali had sugar plum fairy axes to grind about them and their reportage was quite far from realistic in the final analysis.

Caroline was truly something very, very special but RK would never say the same about Kirchheim. Though they both had larger than life aspects, her's were admirable and noteworthy while Kirchheim's weren't by a long shot.

However, one would never know this from the words written in hali after their passings.

Both spent considerable sums of money buying rugs and then donating them to institutions but Caroline asked little for her generosity while Kirchheim made sure everything he did was quid pro quo.

Both of them were manipulated by rug dealers and the market. Eventually Caroline withdrew as she realized this was the reality of her involvement. It is also possible Kirchheim, too, knew this but being a hard-nosed and tight-fisted corporate raider used to fighting his way to the top in an ocean of other far more vicious sharks and big whales, he absorbed the punches and threw a number of them back.

For instance, by selling the "early Anatolian animal rug" he purchased for a reported 1.3 million dollars to Qatar for many times that price, he paid for every rug he ever bought and more. Not bad and although this move returned every deutsch mark he spent on forming his entire collection, it proved not only was he in the carpet game to profit but more so it proved something RK told him during one of the first meetings we had -- that he could become a great carpet dealer.

We remember very well that afternoon in Kirchheim's "apartment" in Stuttgart when, after a nice lunch on his terrace overlooking the city, we proposed the idea to him that he should consider selling some of his lesser, unimportant former purchases himself instead of keeping them hidden in the closet.

At first, he looked rather amazed that we would even breach such an idea and then, after a long pause, he said "I will never sell any of my carpets, I did not buy them to sell them."

This reminded us of what many people involved in difficult marriages think but, like them, Kirchheim eventually realized it is better to rid onself of mistakes then try to prove they weren´t.

His sale at rippon-boswell was quite unsuccessful, as were his efforts to induce dealers to sell his pieces for him. In fact, the only real successful sale was the aformentioned deal with Qatar.

On the other hand, Caroline´s purchases remained with her and out of the marketplace during her lifetime because she donated all of them to the deYoung Museum in San Francisco.

We all know her husband, McCoy Jones was the "collector" and she was, during his lifetime, only the sidecar to his collecting efforts.

But, at the end of his life, she jumped into the driver´s seat and, if the truth be known, out collected him hands down.

According to rumour and gossip it was her influence that made McCoy purchase the kelim collection that is the centerpiece of the Jones bequest to the deYoung.

We met Caroline for the first time at a dinner that was organized to honor that donation. It was just before the opening of the kelim exhibition at the deYoung that coincided with the ICOC event. We had already bumped into McCoy several times long before that in New York but never really got a chance to know the man.

But Caroline´s enthusiasm, style and that infectious twinkle in her eye immediately won us over and, in an instant, we became enamoured of her.

As we got to know her better over the ensuing years, mostly through telephone calls with her, we never lost that feeling.

She was a national treasure and someone who, had the cards fallen down differently, we are sure would have gone on to do far more in the world of historic oriental rugs.

The reasons for her fading, and then withdrawing almost entirely, from the scene are not known by many and, frankly by reading the words written in hali by some of her so-called rug-buddies one would never even suspect this was the case.

But it was and RK knows this for a fact because not only were we privy to what others in her circle told us but we also heard it from the proverbial horse´s mouth, from Caroline herself.

On the other hand, Kirchheim´s storm-trooper stomp through rugdom never let up and he, unlike the demure Mrs. Caroline McCoy Jones, never became upset by the bamboozling antics of rug dealers or museum curators. He naturally found a way over them and even proved he could out-bamboozle them big-time.

We have no more time today to share our thoughts and will return to this thread sometime soon. But before we sign off, we´d like to take this opportunity to inform you all that we are intending to save the best parts of our recollections of Caroline and Kirchheim for the book we intend to publish about our decades of interest in historic oriental rug collectiing.

After all we are, and have been, behind-the-scene at many crucial times, as well as having had relationships with most of the movers and shakers of rugdom.

We know a lot and many of those stories will find their way into our intended publication.

But don´t look for it soon; for as much as we´d like to tell the rest of the story, we have bigger fish to fry presently.

Also some juicy tid-bits about both dear Caroline and Kirchheim will not appear here on RugKazbah.com and, as much as we´d like to share them with y´all, that will have to wait until our rug autobiography is finished.

More to come, don´t touch that dial!.

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