Recently the following comments were posted on the internet by George Gilmore, a long-time southern California oriental carpet dealer whose shop has become a fixture in that region.
RK knows Gilmore for many decades and there is little doubt George has worked hard to develop both knowledge of oriental carpets and a healthy client base.
Gilmore’s website (http://gilmorechronicles.com) is a somewhat recent addition to the net and its latest feature, called “Rapistan Review”, allows George to post his views and comments on the rug scene both in southern California and internationally.
But in the latest edition Gilmore has come out of the box to offer commentary called:
“Issues with keeping business moving forward in a difficult economic climate!!”
After perusing what George wrote RK decided, since we doubt anyone else will, to add our perspective.
So, below you will find Gilmore’s words in “..” and ours in bold type.
GG: “How can we work through something this challenging ?”
GG: “From now on things need to be different in the oriental carpet world in my opinion.”
RK: Hear, hear, George how right you are. RK has been saying this publicly for two plus decades without seeing any change. So your adding your voice is quite welcome. But please note: It is action, and not words, that are needed. We will expound some more on this later.
GG: “When problems pop up that we need to deal with we should take them on head on and not get annoyed and become hostile.”
RK: So far rugDUMB has been truly pathetically unable to do anything about the myriad of problems which have led to both the stagnation of “business”, something which clearly concerns Gilmore, and the poor level of research and appreciation which surely concerns RK.
GG: “Becoming aggressive has never worked either, keeping a cool head and thinking things through before you act is always a better strategy.”
RK: Again we could not agree more, but if Gilmore is implying the position RK staked out over the last 7 years concerning the biggest “problem” in the oriental rug world was poorly put– the dennis dodd’s blatant rip-off of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art(LACMA) – we would like to ask him how he would have handled it?
RK: Or better yet we ask why he did nothing then, or seemingly anything now, to address this issue?
RK: One that surely should be pertinent to him, since LACMA is located in his ‘hood, aka neighborhood.
GG: “This could easily be considered one of the most trying times in recent history to make a living in the oriental rug business. The whole business has been at a stand still lately…”
RK: ‘Scuze us for interrupting but really now, George, aren’t you aware the ‘selling’ of antique rugs, basically your business, has been affected by acts like dodds perpetrated?
RK: For instance, had rugDUMB stood up and complained about dodds’s caper, and strongly voiced its collective condemnation, RK is sure LACMA could not have helped but take notice and then done something to rectify the miserable deal dodds foisted on them.
RK: But not a person said peep, and now the bogus ‘bellini” lies in the sub-basement, where it will stay for eternity, and the chance LACMA will, in our lifetimes, buy another rug, or get seriously involved in exhibiting them is less than nil.
So while it is never too late we hope George will soon breach this issue, taking it head on with those calculated words he mentioned.
GG “:…and the fact that in 2011 Sotheby’s and Christies dropped there spring and fall major rug sales certainly backs up the idea of a stagnate carpet market.”
RK: Might RK add the market is not only stagnant, it has become putrefied by a number of issues, not only l’affaire dodds.
RK: Need we mention the unhealthy nepotism rampant in the ‘higher eschelons’ of the icoc, or the demise of acor and its supposed breath of fresh air to counter the stale weather that the icoc became, or the back-slapping yellow-journalism that rag hali spews in every issue, or the lack of museum exhibitions, or the support they might give, and be given, by the carpet community, etc etc?
RK: Yes, George and RK’s dear readers, time’s long past to do something.
GG: “In many instances disposable income for would be clients in the middle class has dried up for the foreseeable future. That has really hurt the market for mid- range collectable and decorative rugs. For a long time moderately priced pieces had been the back bone of the market. Exceptional collector’s items or the best examples of decorative carpets are always sought after on the top end of the market. On the flip side very reasonably priced or even cheap items are moving well too. As indicated by the success of the auctions in Europe. That said slightly better than average examples are where the market tends to stumble. This portion of the economy is where the mid- range collectors exist and it is where the road block lies.”
RK: We cannot but help to think what Gilmore writes is somewhat myopic. For if he is only interested in seeing more “mid-level” clients walk into his store, or hit his website, then he is deluding himself that the larger issues RK just mentioned, and we are sure he too realizes, need to first be considered, and more importantly ameliorated, before new ‘blood’ and their wallets will appear.
GG: “Here are a couple of things that I think could possibly help improve the situation in the oriental carpet market. The general consensus has always been, collecting oriental rugs and using decorative carpets in homes needs to be introduced to a new group of fresh enthusiast who have not been exposed to them yet. How to do this has always been the big question. Part of the problem is the long standing rumor that oriental rug merchants are a “shifty lot”, which makes new unfamiliar clients suspicious.”
RK: Hear, hear once more, George, but how could anyone think “changing” that perception can be accomplished when at the top of rugDUMB’s public presence a cheat, liar and thief, named dennis dodds, is allowed to remain in position?
RK: Or, for instance, a museum like LACMA gets cheated and no one lifts a finger, or voices a peep, in protest?
RK: No, no, George, this is a dreadful situation and if you really want to see change, even spare change, it’s time you and others got off your chairs and put some energy behind your words.
GG: “Educating prospective clients to make them more comfortable before they make a purchase would be very helpful in correcting this particular aspect of the business.”
RK: Yes, it would and you are clearly an excellent example as the clientele you have developed is directly proportionate to your success in having done so. Congrats to you and hopefully others will eventually spend the time and effort on real education for their clients.
GG: “The two shows at the Capri motel in San Francisco go a long way in helping to expose people to rug collecting on the west coast but nothing like this exist in the mid – west or on the east coast.”
RK: Sorry, George, but the Capri roach motel venue and sticking rugs on the wall or on the bed is no way top raise appreciation for the importance and art of oriental rugs.
Tell me one other art area where dealers get together in a down-market cheap motel to try and “Educate” the public. Forget about trying to sell expensive, mid priced, or even cheap examples – this type of ‘marketing’ can, and will do, nothing to solve the problem. Fact is it supports it far more than it could ever help to improve it.
GG: “There are a couple of smaller affairs along the lines of the Cali. shows in England and Europe but they are not well promoted outside the local rug community so they not much help.”
RK: Please, George, take off the California shades and see the light of reality. Those shows in Europe are no worse, nor are they any better, than the Capri roach motel show.
GG: “For them better promotion and advertising to the general public may be a start.”
RK: We seriously doubt your suggestion will do anything – BUT moving these affairs to proper exhibition venues, even if they are outside metropolitan areas, would be far more successful to increase their effectiveness.
RK: Remember to successfully go fishing and catch fish, you need more than bait – you need to know how to get the fish to the bait and here in lies the rub to explain why these shows are not very successful or profitable.
GG: “Another thing that could be helpful is this, be more forthcoming as far as pricing. The old standard of airport sale style discounts really damages the credibility of the business. It’s very difficult for legitimate oriental carpet merchant to explain this particular practice. Anyone with any kind of business experience is aware a 70 – 80 % off sale is certainly a scam. An item with that big of a discount was surly(sic) over priced to begin with. The same thing with “going out of business ” sales. Some rug stores have been going out of business since the day they opened.”
RK: True, true, George, but that end of the rug market has little to do with the one where you, and the other dealers we know, are operating and selling rare, antique rugs.
RK: When has any dealer in your milieu done a going out of business sale or advertise savings of 50 percent plus on their inventory?
GG: “Enough is enough !! These days with the Internet it’s easy to compare how much rugs and carpets are selling for, so it’s a dealers beware market.”
RK: Again, you are wrong here as well. Why? Simply because each “valuable” and “rare” antique oriental rug, like the ones you sell, is not really comparable to any other of its type.
RK: This is a given, and one of the basic principals any “oriental rug education” should stress. Remember the old expression: “There are diamonds and there are Diamonds”; so there are, for instance Marasali prayer rugs that sell for $5,000 and there are others, which look very similar to the untrained eye, that sell for $50,000.
RK: And no matter how good the picture is on the internet, or in a book, few, even among so-called experts, can really know which is the great one and which is a lesser example.
GG: “Carpet merchants should be realistic when quoting prices. So where do we go from this point forward ? This is how I see it, rug collecting at this moment in time is in a holding pattern. First up I don’t think that as some biased part time dealer/ collectors have said, and you know who you are, the interest in oriental rugs from a collectors(sic) stand point is “dieing(sic)”..If a truly great piece appears, fresh to the market it still creates quite a stir. The recent sale of first phase chiefs blanket at the John Moran auction in Pasadena, Ca for 1.8 million dollars is a good example of this. Yes, it was an American Indian item but still proves my point being written up in Hali magazine, the Newton Bee and the Maine Ant. Digest, so far.”
RK: Sorry, again, George, we don’t necessarily agree, as the first phase blanket’s over-the-top price does not really support your argument.
RK: Actually, it far more points out how the Navajo blanket collecting community is much more knowledgeable than the so-called ‘tribal’ part of the oriental rug community.
RK: And as such the Navajo blanket collectors have demonstrably, as the prices for these weaving have consistently proven over the past 30 plus years, been more likely to put up their wallets and prove it.
GG: “And you may also remember the S- Group ensi that sold at Grogan’s in Dedham,Ma. last year was a nice spark to the Turkmen market.
RK: Again we have to differ, as the engsi was not solidly “S” group, at best it is an aberrant example, and its price, though reasonably high for what it was, is nowhere in the ball park the first phase blanket homerun was launched.
GG: “These things only affect the established, educated collectors of the world, but are of little interest to a beginning enthusiast.”
RK: Wrong here also, George, for as little as that engsi sold for, compared to the Navajo first phase, it too was written up in the Bee, the Maine Antique Digest and that rag hali.
RK: And such publicity does, in fact, influence any aware beginning collector or those who might want to become one.
RK: But all this begs a larger issue: Was the grogan engsi really worth the price and minor hullaballoo it generated?
RK: Once more, compared to the Navajo first phase RK would have to say no, not even close. And this well exhibits how behind the eight-ball rugDUMB truly is.
GG: “To expand the oriental rug and textile decorative and collectors markets to new people we need to implement more ways to introduce this art form to those who have not considered it before. Once again I think expanded advertising for shows and museum exhibitions featuring rugs and textiles in local newspapers and national general antique publications could be one way.
RK: Of course, here we agree, but in the final analysis the fact museum exhibitions of oriental rugs are few and far between and clearly until the dennis dodds LACMA rip-off is acknowledged and rectified the rug world will go nowhere in any museum board rooms or curatorial departments.
And speaking of museums: How about the moribund Textile Museum in Washington, DC and its board’s, fecklessly led by big mouth bruce baganz, inability to put anything but ineptitude on the drawing board.
RK: These are facts, and ones that must be met “head on”. Can RK count on you, George, to accept the challenge?
GG: “The “exhibition and show promoters” have been a little skimpy on this lately. However this could help bring in people who would not otherwise know about a show in there(sic) vicinity. One new thing that has happened recently is the addition of a new oriental carpet magazine , “carpet Collector ”. This publication is devoted to the antique rug and textile field, a major step in the right direction. And a little competition for Hali magazine may get them to pick up there(sic) game too.
GG: A nice start but what’s next ??
GG: If you agree or disagree with this feel free to post a comment at,
RK: There is little doubt what George Gilmore wrote is pertinent and thoughtful. And while some might read RK’s words and get the idea we are criticizing him this is far from the truth.
RK: Rather than criticizing Gilmore we are just calling for him, and rugDUMB’s large silent majority, to focus their thoughts and far more significantly get off their butts and do something to make the necessary changes Gilmore points out—forget about those RK mentioned here and the many others we have written about on RugKazbah.com.