Saturday morning May 31 at around 10:15 AM 117 Tunnel Road, in Ashville North Carolina was ground zero for almost everyone who is anyone in the rug world. At that time Robert Brunk Auction Gallery was preparing to auction perhaps the most significant Turkish Rug to ever grace an American action Sale.
This might sound like an exaggeration but Lot 57, a 7 foot by 20 foot woolen pile carpet was not only monumental in size but in every other respect as well. Here is a photo of the piece:
The scale, color and design were masterful and this was not lost on the myriad of potential bidders who came by car, train and plane to this quiet hamlet nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. A greater number had received digital images and were bidding by phone or had sent representatives to execute their bids.
I learned of the piece several weeks prior to the sale and planned to attend in person, arriving on the day before to be sure to have a good look at it as well as the several other pieces which had come from the same collection. Of the other 15 or so others, the main standouts were a Transylvanian prayer rug, lot 74, which was horribly miscataloged as a late 19th century Ghiordes and a Spanish carpet, lot 84, which was equally misattributed as an 18th century “Turkish” rug.
These errors were bad but they paled in comparison to the 18th century “Turkish” label Brunk and Co. hung on lot 57.
As I am not very interested or enamored by Spanish rugs of the period Brunk’s came from I am not going to bother to discuss it or illustrate it here but here is a photo of the Transylvanian:
All these carpets came from the estate of Casper Foy, a conservator of paintings, who had labored for the Brooklyn Museum in New York City and were discovered in a warehouse in Palm Beach, Fla. It was there that Robert Brunk first saw these carpets packed in plastic trash bags. Were they destined for the local garbage dump? Surely we will never know, but once they were found by Brunk their destiny, and particularly lot 57's, was set and the wheels of fate and fortune have now propelled them into an international spotlight. This notoriety, which has in fact just begun to glow, will no doubt soon burst, like super nova, over the rug scene, as the 270,000 dollar hammer price lot 57 sold for continues to reverberate through the rug world.
Mr. Casper was described in the catalog as a collector with”…unrestrained enthusiasm…” and the many other objects from his stash that were also included in the sale well support such an epitaph.
A “Karapinar” attribution has now become almost inexorably attached to the centerpiece of Casper’s rug collection. But in this writer’s opinion this is incorrect and although I could set out why I believe this not to be the case, I will for the present not delve into the question of this rug’s provenance. And regardless of the fact everyone else believes it to be a “Karapinar”, I will gladly stand-alone and maintain it isn’t and for this reason I will heretofore refer to the rug as a so-called “Karapinar”.
One thing everyone will agree on is the fact that it is unique example and not only the best of its type but also a pinnacle of Turkish pile carpet weaving. More to come, stay tuned.