Perspective more than price is the most important way to look at the sale of the Clark sickle-leaf carpet.
One of RK respondents said, when we talked with him after the sale: “That’s a hell of a lot of money”.
But when RK said “Compared to a modern or contemporary painting it surely isn’t”, after a few seconds of silence he said “You know, you are right.”
As we predicted the rug sold for much more than the estimate, and while we surely were on the low side, in fact just half considering hammer price ex-premium, it was a no-brainer to say it would.
We are also sure its small, apartment-put-it-on-the-wall, size was one of if not the main reason for it making that price.
But more worth comment than the price, who bought it, etc, is the fallacy “it’s good for the rug business”.
This is a nonsense idea floated to RK by numerous people both before and now after the sale.
Yes, it gets publicity and puts “rugs” in the newspaper and maybe on TV (somewhere).
But compared to, say the recent contemporary art auction at sotheby where a number of works outsold the sickle-leaf by good margins, it really in actuality is nothing but a so-what in the “art world”.
And the larger issue, a famous American art museum sold it, completely deflates and negates any positive spin this story can generate for oriental rugs.
Were it bought by a famous American museum, then Yeah that’s sumptin’.
And even if it was purchased by a museum in the Persian Gulf, or Brunei, or somewhere else, it sends a message loud and clear: American and European museums are not only disinterested in rugs, they are selling, ie getting rid of, the ones they have.
This can’t be spun into a winning play, nor can it be believed to be one by anyone who can chew gum and throw the wrapper away at the same time.
One last comment: the fact the under-bidder was peter pap makes absolutely no sense.
Yes, it is common knowledge in rugDUMB pap has a “big money” client who has purchased some pricey Turkmen pieces from him.
However, from we have heard about this client, including his name, his business, and place of residence, it does not make sense that he would be bending his wallet to the tune of 34 million dollars to purchase that rug.
No, no, RK suspects far more is going on here than pap holding up a paddle his aforementioned client put in his hand and would have gotten the invoice had pap been the buyer.
Let RK share our suspicion what is going on here with our readership.
We think pap was working with the buyer’s agent!
RK can hear you’all thinking: What, wadda mean RK???
Here’s the poop on pap – he was bidding just making the price high enough for the buyer’s agent to get a fat, real fat commission.
But more importantly, if you’all don't know the following, let RK clue you in.
The people who are rich enough to consider 33,750,000 dollars pocket change are happier when they are spending a lot of their money, and not so happy when they get a trophy cheap.
And that’s what this rug is, a trophy.
Understand this fact: if it sold for 10 million it would not be a great rug … but since it sold for 34 million it IS a great rug.
And while our saying pap was a patsy, just there to raise the price, is complete off the wall speculation we wouldn’t write it if we did not believe it has more than a slight chance of being fact.
So pap was bidding to raise the price on instructions from someone who was involved with the person who bought it.
Think about it….