The other day RK was looking though one of our old computers and found this “review” of the Tent Band Collection Sale at sotheby NY in December of 1990.
It was written by over-fed turko-poser george o’bannon.
Published soon after the sale in “oriental rug review”, a defunct wanna-be hali, twenty-two years later it demonstrates everything RK has said about mr o’bannon and proves how ignorant the “market” for Turkmen rugs was then. It also implies how much almost everyone involved still has to learn even though much has happened to improve the level of expertise.
Some might say publishing this “review” on our website makes us look bad.
Or our writing unfavorably about o’bannon is in bad taste since he is dead and can’t defend himself.
This is complete nonsense as his words written after the sale could never be defended, then or now. There's a lot to have been said about the sale and what he wrote was a miss by a longshot.
Fact is george washington o’bannon after failing as a dealer became a “rug scholar”.
His book on Turkmen rugs, “The Turkoman Carpet”, written in 1974, was a poor representation of the level Turkmen rug studies that existed then. Forget about how it looks today.
To say it was outdated the minute it was published would be no exaggeration.
And o’bannon’s second publication, a bibliography of all the books ever published about oriental rugs, is nothing but basically plagiarizing another author’s work.
Reading o’bannon’s stupid opinions about the twenty pieces offered in that sale, compared with what we wrote about them in the Tent Band Tent Bag book published in 1989, one doesn’t have to be an einstein to notice the difference.
So read o’bannon’s commentary on the Tent Band Sale below.
And by the way, his saying Hans Sienknecht “mercifully” bought eight pieces is the stupidest comment about Turkmen rugs sold at auction that ever will be written.
At that time, December 1990, the pieces Sienknecht bought, and he did not buy eight he bought 5, were some of the best in his collection.
And twenty-two years later they remain so.
RK is sorry o’bannon is gone. We would always have enjoyed making him look the clown.
“The Cassin pieces consisted of Lots 17-36.
They are the first 20 pieces in the Cassin/Hoffmeister opus Tent Band -- Tent Bag.
If publication and some names lend cachet to a rug, others do not. Mr. Cassin is a well known gadfly and chatterbox; his reputation preceded him with many potential buyers.
The pieces had been shopped around and were not fresh, and we have noted the effect these phenomena can have elsewhere.
Although there were several interesting lots, most were not and all were battered, cut, or incomplete.
The estimates were too high and they were presumably reserved. (A Homer strategy of making them unreserved would have been more effective in getting the pieces sold, if that was the intention.)
Fortunately for Sotheby's, the entire sale did not turn out like these lots.
Of the 20 offered, 10 sold.
Mercifully, Hans Sienknecht, a prominent German Turkoman collector, attended and bought eight of these including the best and most important, Lot 26, a pile tent band fragment, for $17,000 (estimated $20,000-$30,000), the only real bargain.
The beautiful and colorful Yomud juval fragment exhibited at the ICOC, Lot 32, earlier than the cataloged mid-19th century and with corrosive black, sold for an excessive $3,000 to the phone (estimated $1,000-$1,500).
These lots were a poor showing for the house and one wonders why they accepted them for such unreasonably high estimates when we know other consignors are browbeaten into accepting lower figures.”
For mr o’bannon’s edification -- you’re never too old or too dead to learn – the pieces sold at sotheby had never been offered for sale and all of them were earlier than the “dates” in the catalog. And they were all super bargains for those four buyers who stepped up and bought the ten that sold.
Just go ask Sienknecht, mark feldman, jim burns and ronnie newman.
One of the two reason for the auction’s failure was the low level of knowledge the market for Turkmen rugs had at that time, and for which o’bannon is the perfect poster-boy.
The other was the underhanded actions of sotheby's carpet department, and particularly those of william ruprecht, a true Judas.