The following quotations begin an article in the latest issue of that rag hali.
It was written by michael franses, who is the new owner of the magazine after selling it many years ago and recently repurchasing it.
The article is called: “Material Values”
“In the light of the recent sale of a Safavid Persian classical carpet at Sotheby’s in New York, Michael Franses considers what constitutes a fair price in today’s market.”
Lot 22 sold NY sotheby Feb. 1, 2013
In this “article” franses wastes no time and jumps immediately into pontificating “…several factors (that) need to be considered when assessing the material worth of an important historical carpet.”
Let’s list them before we comment.
First, according to franses, is its “beauty”, which he then says “…can occasionally be compromised by its condition.”
“Second, one should judge a carpet on how good it is by comparison with other relevant known examples.”
Third “…is its rarity: could I, one day, get another one as good or better?”
While franses’s “reasons” are surely pointful they are terribly obvious; and since he has spent the majority of his ‘career’ dealing with ‘classical’ carpets might not one have hoped for some real advice and not common patter?
Clearly, franses is not going to enlighten anyone unless it is to his advantage, and doing that for readers of his newly reacquired magazine definitely isn’t part of that plan.
RK knows franses well, and his self-serving agenda even better, so we are not surprised nothing is revealed in this article other than his not undetectable read between the lines message: michael franses is le roi de les merchants du tapis.
We also know how little ability franses invariably demonstrates when he tries to articulate serious commentary.
And this effort is nothing different, in fact it stands in complete opposition to his last article on the undiscovered Chinese rugs published in a recent issue of that rag hali.
So much so it calls to question whether or not franses actually wrote the article on Chinese rugs.
RK praised that article as the best piece we have ever seen franses author and clearly either he did not actually write it or must have outdone himself, the strain painfully obvious when comparing it to the present one.
To say that article said something and this one says practically nothing would be no over-statement.
So much for that comparison, here are a few of the say-nothings franses feeds his readership in this effort:
1. Calling the rug in question, a “…central Persian carpet with bird…”, “…an irreplaceable masterpiece from the highest period of 16th century Safavid Persian Art…” at the beginning of his article and then saying it is “…an eight (because) It does not have the ‘bells and whistles’ of animal hunts, or complex borders or exquisite details…” strikes RK as talking out of both sides of his mouth simultaneously.
This is contradictory and irreconcilable and while it is obvious to RK why franses does this we wonder if others are able to understand his motive?
For those who might be confused we will clear the waters.
By first praising the carpet on page one franses is actually giving that praise to the buyer who spent 1,930,550 dollars to bag it.
And then by virtually dissing it and calling it an “eight” that lacks “bells and whistles” on page two franses is covertly sending a message to that buyer.
That message, loud and clear, is: You need to consult me next time.
We are willing to bet dollars to donut holes this is what is going on, and why franses would be so stupid to first dub it an “irreplaceable masterpiece” and then drub it as an “eight” that “lacks bells and whistles” is proof he’s either an idiot or a fool. You choose as RK knows he is both.
If there is any doubt what a self-promoter, and insistent ‘I am the man’ mr michael franses believes himself to be in the world of carpets, read on and RK will dispel those doubts.
2. Telling everyone “…there were seven telephone bidders, all strongly contesting” for the rug when it hit the auction block, franses then asks “…who could have been the contenders. Who is buying historical carpets; who has the expertise; and, more importantly, who has the cash?”
After setting up these questions any honest author would then reveal who at least some if not all of those contender were, or possibly could have been.
More to the point, who the winner actually was.
But no such insider tidbits will franses dispense.
It is almost comical how he dances around the question and in the end answers it with a big say-nothing: Duhhhh, I’dunno.
“In North America, institutional contenders could have been Cleveland, the Metropolitan Museum, Chicago, the new Aga Khan Museum in Toronto; in Europe probably just the Louvre; in the Gulf, Kuwait, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah; and in Japan, the Miho. Riyadh and Tehran probably are not set up to acquire the greatest carpets…”.
“Only Sotheby knows who went after this carpet and no one there is telling…So who were the contenders? I suspect they were private individuals with a love for beautiful things.”
RK is also willing to bet dollars to those donut holes franses knows far more than he is letting on, and probably he knows both the who the buyer and one or more of the under bidders were.
How do we know this?
Well even though classical carpets are not our interest, we know enough about the carpet game to know franses was far more intimately involved and knowledgeable about what went down both before and at the sotheby sale than this article he authored states.
At the upper echelons, ie those buyers with big wallets who can afford major purchases, of all areas of oriental rug collecting there are few participants and it is “dealers” who invariably are the bidders at auctions, and not the “institutions” or private buyers.
The fact franses glosses over this fact is telling, so much so that it casts a huge disingenuous cloud over franses’ honesty and ability to be an honest broker of information.
Plus the fact franses is a dealer, always has been and always will be, and has indelible ties to the few other carpet dealers who have clients able to purchase such a rug, makes his imaginary position as a disinterested commentator look as phony as a three dollar bill.
And add to that the fact franses has supposedly “retired” from carpet dealing so he can be a “consultant” under contract with the Doha Museum.
All together these facts grind to smithereens any idea franses is doing anything by writing this article other than pursuing and pushing his own covert agenda.
But perhaps the most questionable, and yes race fans laughable, aspect of this article is the way that rag hali, and franses himself, sets-up michael franses as “the” person who could possibly “consider what constitutes a fair price in today’s market” for such a rug.
He is neither a buyer nor a disinterested “expert”; rather he is an agent whose “services” are for sale to the highest bidder. Or, in fact, anyone who dials the telephone number posted on his still online Textile Gallery website.
In trying to prove he is the man who knows what such a carpet is worth franses actually raises more questions about himself, his honesty, and his position as a go-fer for rich rug buyers than his words could possibly convey.
And pretending he knows nothing about what happened behind the scene of the sale of this carpet, franses once again proves untrustworthy as an unbiased commentator, and worse as an individual who pretends to be as pure as driven snow on the top of Mount Olympus.
Lastly, RK could not help but chuckle when franses asks “The question remains whether such major works (remember he just called it an eight) should be in private hands, enjoyed only by a wealthy collector and his friends, or on public view so the less fortunate can be inspired.”
Might sound good on paper but for 90 plus percent of franses’ career he hungered to work for, and did at times, such wealthy rug buyers and was part and parcel of their removing such “great works of art” from the public domain and “those less fortunate”.
There is no doubt franses is a major re-writer of his own history, and his failures to own up to what he has done and continually pretend his past doesn’t exist are as obvious as the nose on his face.
RK hates phony-baloney bogus, self-propelling imperious grifters and michael franses has constantly proven himself to be one of rugdumb’s worst.
And so an article like this one, purporting to be an unbiased look at a question like what is a classical carpet like the one sold at sotheby worth, is nothing but an agenda forwarding effort that attempts to make a dealer like michael franses into a worthy commentator.
Whereas in fact it is nothing but a say-little to nothing commentary posing as something insightful and informative.
It is again but one that serves that rag hali and the author’s illusions they are far more than pedestrian self-do gooders, who never fail to put their own self-interest above all else.
If you want to know what a rug like this one is worth RK suggests you don’t ask franses or anyone at that rag hali. Instead, get a crystal ball, stare into it for some time and you will most likely have a better idea than reading what franses wants you to think.