Home > Turkmen Rugs >Tongues are wagging re: munkasci auction
Thu, May 14th, 2015 10:04:31 AM
Topic: Tongues are wagging re: munkasci auction

Much has already been said, and no doubt will be said in the future, about this auction.

Why a former stalwart of the Turkmen rug collecting world would give it all up and put a significant part of his collection on the auction block.

Rumors abound: he's very sick and dying; he's tired of red rugs and plans to take the proceeds and begin to collect Anatolian rugs; he's going to take the proceeds and buy paintings or some other types of tribal art; he's selling just to see what will happen.

While each of these explanations, and other even more outlandish ones we have heard, might actually be the reason RK is still baffled.

After 25 years of passionately pursuing what then makes someone give up and get out?

We have mentioned the lack of financial need, so what then could cause such a turn around considering the former pursuit that in munkasci's case bordered on obsession?

This might sound unfriendly, or even cruel, but in his case, as well as Ignatius Vok whose collection's auction cannot help but be compared to munkasci's, RK can only surmise the collecting urge was not anything but an urge to 'show off', something that was as shallow as a puddle of rain on Fifth Ave.

Why else would a sell it all auction be the end?

The real collectors we have met not only in carpets but many other areas, and this applies to a very small number we can count on our fingers, are motivated by far loftier goals -- ones that have both deep investigative and intellectual basis.

These goals are far more reaching and life-long, they are open-endedly infinite. Collectors of this ilk just don't wake up one morning and decide to call the auctioneer, no matter what the circumstance.

Yes, of course no one on the outside really knows if the financially successful record producer munkasci parades as, or his even more successful wife, do actually have financial need. But even if this is the case why sell the best pieces, when so many lesser ones could be sold?

Frankly, RK sincerely doubts this or any other 'need' reason is behind his selling.

RK is not the only one who knows this, but it is not general knowledge, for at least 15 plus years munkasci was working closely with david d'hurle, a doctor who also collects Turkmen rugs.

In fact their association was extremely close. Each had a pre-existing private collection but for most if not all that period they bought almost everything together forming a third partnership collection.

A few years ago this arrangement broke down and, as rumor has it, the break down was serious.

So serious, in fact, to destroy the relationship.

Supposedly, again according to circulating rumors, the partnership collection was divided and d'hurle, not munkasci, ended up with the best pieces; munkasci getting the rest.

This according to some pundits is where some of the formerly believed 'great' weaving munkasci supposedly had are.

But we have also heard munkasci was, except at certain auctions, a 'cheap-buyer' and therefore never stepped up and paid the price, and therefore never had as great a collection as he was alleged to have had.

One thing is sure there are some superior Turkmen weavings in the sale, it's just not on as high a level as the thompson or pinner collections were.

Which brings up, of course, comparison to thompson and pinner's reasons for selling.

In pinner's case he was on his death-bed and after trying unsuccessfully to sell his collection en mass the auction block then beckoned.

By the way this explanation has never held any credence for RK because pinner could have donated his best pieces to many museums who would have accepted them and where they would have glorified his collecting life and been in the public domain.

But he didn't, a fact which goes a long way in substantiating our low opinion of pinner the man and Turkmen rug collector.

And even fewer people than those who know about the munkasci/d'hurle partnership know what happened to the substantial proceeds of the pinner sale.

RK does and perhaps someday we will spill the beans, but suffice it to say very little of the money the collection brought went to making pinner's last few days more comfortable.

In jon thompson's case, which is far more similar to munkasci's, supposedly thompson, too, was getting out of collecting Turkmen rugs. But this is bogus as thompson never stopped collecting them and still to this day presents himself as a buyer of exceptional Turkmen weavings.

But thompson, unlike the munkascis, never had financial success -- he was a ''poor doctor'' so selling a part of his Turkmen collection remedied that need quite well.

Rug collecting is surely an esoteric pursuit that more more often than other collecting areas attracts, particularly at the top end, a strange breed of aficionados and kurt munkasci is a perfect example.

So perhaps there is no real explanation for why he is selling other than the fact he is selling. And trying to analyze why is as pointless as trying to figure out what will happen at this auction.

But unlike personal motivation there is a rational for Turkmen rugs at auction and the loading of 130 pieces in a single sale is taking a big chance.

Unlike the chance Vok took with his kelims, the suzani surely did not nor do they have the same limited number of real collectors, Persian, Caucasian and Anatolian kelim are decorative and the fact most of Vok's pieces were in good condition allowed them to sell to a broader 'decorative' market, not to the small collector one.

Such is not the case with Turkmen weavings, especially those that predominate in the munkasci collection that are almost all damaged to some degree precluding their usability as decorative furniture.

We see the munkasci auction as a big chance and regardless of the fact the pieces he collected should attract widespread interest and bidding furor we just can't see how such a small market can absorb the bulk of the pieces this auction offers.

Author: Mike Rosenthal
email: callmr@comcast.net
Thu, May 14th, 2015 10:04:31 AM

Greetings Mike:

Thanks for your take on the sale; but we have never met anyone, and we know some major rich people, who is "insensitive" to price.

The fact munkasci has money does not make him immune to financial disappointment.

Furthermore munkasci is not really rich in any sense of the word, so we are sure a euro matters to him as much as it does to you and I.

Plus we are not talking about a few euro, we are talking about 100,000's of euro lost in this sale.

Yes, naturally, he still has what did not sell but we all know the value those pieces had has been at best halved by the failure to sell them.

Frankly, RK doubts even if he could sell them many of them at a 50% discount on the low estimates.

The marketplace for Turkmen collector rugs is small and fragile. The sale proved this beyond any doubt.

It also proved other factors, all of which bode poorly for munkasci's chances to sell what he has already offered, as well as to have a second auction with similar type goods. He will need to pony up some major pieces, which quite honestly RK doubts he has.

Incidently, RK's Part Two of our review of the sale is going on line in a few minutes, and we are sure when you read it you can see some additional points we need not repeat here.



I think Kurt just wanted to jettison his 2nd tier examples and some of the better examples to deflect criticism, and to your earlier point, create some high visibility, perhaps for a more important, as yet unannounced, second auction at Udo's.

Kurt knows the market is not as strong as it was before, but being price insensitive, this doesn't really matter to him.


Author: jc
Sat, May 9th, 2015 04:52:38 AM

It's Saturday May 9th and 30 minutes to show time for the munkasci collection auction.

Earlier this week RK visited Vienna and the auction preview and we must mention the superb job Udo Langauer has done in exhibiting the collection, as well as publicizing it.

Austria Auction has definitely shown itself to be a major contender in the oriental rugs auction business and RK believes detlef maltzahn's rippon-boswell auction company has now got major competition on its hands.

Time will tell if Langauer can keep up the fast pace his now almost 2 year sprint at organizing auctions of known collections has shown.

All that said RK believes Austria Auction might have cut off a bit more than the market can swallow in offering 130+ Turkmen pieces in one sale.

Talk abounds and it seems everyone has an opinion but to make this short RK's sides with those who believe its just too many pieces at one time.

So our prediction is for, at best, a 60% sales ratio, with most pieces selling at or ?just below? the starting price.

There will be some major upsides, the easiest to predict are the pair of white ground asmalyk formerly sold at Christie London, and the turreted gol S-group chuval.

Also watch several of the other better condition S-group pieces, a few of the earlier Chodor chuval and torba, the Yomud kepse gol fragmented MC and the catalog cover C-gol MC.

That's it for now, race time in 20 minutes....keep tuned for our post-sale review which will probably be online middle next week.

Home   Buy/Sell at the Kazbah   Terms Of Service