As predicted the supposed “trans-Caucasian” medallion rug pictured in the sotheby’s sale preview posted here on RK.com in the “Worldwide Auction” Topic Area failed to sell. Maybe if ms otsea, sotheby’s former secretary turned department head, had called it a north-west Persian rug, which it undoubtedly was, instead of the misnomer and ubiquitous “trans-Caucasian” moniker a buyer might have thought enough of it to step up to the plate.
Well, no matter, as there were enough eager batters ready and willing to open up their checkbooks for a number of other lots at Friday’s spectacle on York Ave.
Yours truly attended the sale and, must admit, was somewhat surprised at the willingness certain dealers exhibited to outbid each other for several of the “better” lots in the sale.
This dealer on dealer battling @spb is nothing new, however, the goods they were chasing appeared to me to be rather droll in comparison to previous sales.
These floor “battles” revolved around several excellent condition mid-19th century Caucasian rugs that had strong colors but were short on real style and class. Not to mention rarity of design or splendid iconographic content.
Obviously the leader of this pack was the cover lot, a karagashli, that had a number of replied and repaired areas, albeit these were expertly done and visible only on the back to one highly conversant with excellent repair and how to identify it. The karagashli, which had originally belonged to mr blau, made $60,000(all prices mentioned here include the 20% premium) – a hefty price for a rather weak example of its type. But, I guess, coming on the heels of a $50,000 ChiChi prayer rug, of equally medium quality for its type that sold in the fall sale, this price was not out of line.
Lately the market has carved out a steep uptick for mid-19the century Caucasian rugs in excellent condition, which exemplifies a kind of “new-speak” as this type of goods was, for quite some time, not as hot as it is now. Are these pieces going to newbie rich collectors or will they find themselves on the floors of expensive ultra-decorated apartments and homes of the newly minted rich and famous?
In any event, they are not “collector” pieces at all – they are but riche floor rugs in my opinion. What are they really worth? Time will have to be the judge here as the rug market does have a propensity to, at times, propel prices to the max and then, later on, to "come to it senses" and pop those balloons and burst their price bubbles.
Of the small group of high-price performers in the morning “collector” section, which has become nothing more than smaller sized version of the afternoons “decorative” rug offerings, lot 3 was the standout.
Called a baroque Melas, another cutesy antiquated name-tag like trans-Caucasian, this white field prayer rug was the standout of the sale. That said considering it didn’t have much competition.
While not the oldest of its type, or the best, it did have a brilliant design with wonderful proportions, shiny wool and rich and varied coloration. And of course it was in good nick (condition). It made 36,000, which was a bargain compared to the karagashli – well at least in my opinion.
Stay tuned for Part II when a few other pieces will be illustrated and discussed.