Memories of dodds and rageth
The fact dodds bamboozled LACMA by telling tall-tales, misinformation, exaggeration and outright lies to make the sale is nothing new -- he has been doing that for years. And he’s been getting away with it.
But as egregious as dodds's salesmanship has been over the years RK has observed him, and we have heard such stories from others as well, we believe recounting the following story will amplify his lack of character as well as rug expertise.
We probably met dodds sometime in the mid-1970's, maybe 1974/5, when berj andonian took us to dodds's place in Philadelphia.
In those days long past, RK used to attend many, many east coast auctions looking for old oriental rugs and the other objects we collect.
Sometimes on these excursions we would make arrangements to travel with another dealer to relieve the boredom of the road and, on that particular day, we were with andonian to attend a sale a Freeman's auction in downtown Philly.
During the sale, andonian suggested we visit a rug dealer he knew and that dealer turned out to be dennis dodds.
We agreed but actually we had no choice as we drove with andonian in his car, so after the sale we tagged along.
When we got to dodds's place, he welcomed andonian, who instantly introduced us to dodds as someone he should know.
As an aside let us mention a bit about andonian, who was introduced into the rug business by Berj Abadjian.
Abadjian met andonian thru their connections to the Armenian community in New York City and, soon after they met, Abadjian began to tutor him in the fine points of buying old oriental rugs.
At this point in time, andonian was a traveling salesman and, with the knowledge Abadjian shared with him, pretty soon andonian was regularly returning to New York with good rugs for Abadjian to sell.
To make a long story short, let's just say that andonian soon began to sell rugs behind Abadjian's back, often to his customers, and when this eventually came to light, Abadjian gave andonian the gate.
Soon thereafter andonian became a full-time rug dealer and it was during this period RK's story unfolds.
We always liked andonian and although we knew how he had back-doored Abadjian, we did not believe he was going to repeat the moves on others, including our self.
Well let's just say he did, more than once, and it has been more than 20 years since we have had anything to do with him.
It is really a shame because we always enjoyed his company, and did get some great pieces from him.
But, no matter, eventually his one-sided business ethics came between us. Perhaps someday we will tell all but today dodds, and not andonian, is the subject, so back to dodds and that day in Philly.
After pleasantries, dodds took andonian and me into his "rug room" to look at what he had for sale.
We spent some time talking and looking, and at some point, andonian asked dodds if he could use the toilet.
On his return andonian blurted out something like "What about that Caucasian rug I saw in the hallway? How much do you want for that?"
RK remember this like it was yesterday, the look of fake surprise on dodds's face, as dodds stammered "What Caucasian Rug?".
"The prayer rug" said andonian.
Quickly answering "What prayer rug?" dodds gave the impression andonian had seen a ghost, surely nothing real.
But then andonian said this one and both dodds and RK followed him through dodds's place and lo and behold there it was - a rare, silk-wefted prayer rug.
Immediately dodds exclaimed "Oh, that one, really you were not supposed to see it. I made a mistake and forgot to put in away."
Actually we have a photo of the rug but it is somewhere among a trunk full of photos we have and, since we have not digitized it and cannot take the time to find it now, here is a photo of a similar but MUCH later example with a reflection of the iconography of the rug in question.
This one is later 19th but dodds’s was 18th century and silk-wefted; part of an extremely rare group of atelier rugs probably made in Armenia in some high end workshop.
Regardless of its origins, the example dodds had was the best one we have ever seen, not to say we have seen many because probably less than 5 are known.
We might be wrong about the number of these silk-wefted rarities but we are not wrong in saying the one we saw that day in Philly is the best of the type.
As andonian took the rug into dodds’s “rug room” to look at, RK knew andonian was not going to leave without taking the rug along with us and sure enough that’s what happened.
After hemming and hawing to no get-out, like he was being forced to sell his first-born, dodds finally relented when andonian took out all stops and offered a huge price.
The technique dodds used, which by the way we caught him doing on us one other time as well, is one he did not invent, nor is it unique to him.
But it is unique to those who do not know what something is, or what it is worth.
These know-littles pretend a piece is not for sale, that you(a buyer) were not supposed to see it, or any other lame excuse to get the buyer so hot and bothered that they, like andonian did that day in Philly, go beyond reason just to get it.
There is no doubt dodds’s deception, rather weasel-like and unbecoming actions that day earned him far more than if he had offered andonian the rug straight out.
However, since dodds did not know how good, in fact, the rug was or what it was really worth, he had no grounds to understand it or make any price.
There is little doubt dodds still doesn’t know as much as he should but he surely knows more than he knew that day in Philly.
RK knows dodds is not the only one to use such methods to sell a rug and another serial abuser, runny newman, surely comes to mind.
He, like dodds, is famous for using deception and the same ploy. RK can vouch for this because he played the game with us more than once.
In fact, the last time we visited runny, in 1975, was the last time. Since then, now 30
+ years later, we have never gone back or even said a word to runny, who like dodds is about as low as you can go on the rug totem pole, according to us.
RK has many stories about the pooh-bahs, posers, self-proclaimed rug world experts and big-shots but none of them tick RK off more than dodds.
He is truly a nasty piece of work, who thinks and believes he is one of the chosen and can use falsehood, deception and even outright deceit to make a sale.
By the way, that time in Philly, dodds is the one who got taken as the price andonian paid, albeit a high one, was not nearly high enough. Soon, the silk-wefted Caucasian prayer rug was on its way to Germany and we believe andonian more than doubled his money.
We should also mention, since dodds was andonian’s contact we never did any business with him until more than a decade later and with andonian's permission, as we have always respected the contacts any rug dealer we knew had.
Naturally, we expected the same from others but let’s just say rarely did any other rug dealers honor such a position with us – in fact, we have some equally as interesting tales to tell but they will have to await another time to be aired publicly.