The decision rippon-boswell made of having another sale running concurrently with the pinner collection is something RK.com has, so far, avoided discussing. But since we will now examine a few of the lots in that second sale, this issue is the first one to address.
In and of itself having another sale, aside from any scheduling conflict, probably didn’t appear to many as a very significant factor in the rather disappointing results the pinner pieces as a whole made – there surely were other valid reasons. However, discounting it is a short-sided view since the rug world is small and collectors often tend to buy what is presented to them. There is no doubt having two sales on the same day in the same auction venue does obviously cut into the overall amount of money available to be spent. Mentioning this is nothing brilliant but there is another less obvious but more significant detail in maltzahn’s holding that other sale.
In the “general” sale, as this other auction was referred to by the boswells, there were a few top Turkmen lots. From the get-go RK.com felt including them in this sale was not only rather foolish, since the pinner sale was exclusively Turkmen and contained similar pieces to those Turkmens included in this general sale, but more to the point it was a snide, slap in pinner’s face move, as these other Turkmen weavings were superior to his.
RK.com has pointed out the hypocritical attitude all those concerned with offing the pinner collection – little lord franses, hamburger danny, banker turned rug scheister sienknecht and the maltzahns – have assumed in requesting the rug world open their wallets to help pinner in his hour of need while they did nothing other than intend to profit from that largess you and I were supposed to pony up.
This behavior is the typical bogus posturing bullsh+t many of the “names” in rugdom habitually assume. Save for RK.com’s comments, the reality no one else has chosen to voice similar concerns or even suggest the impropriety of the nonsense these greedy fools believed they could forward speaks volumes in support of RK’s contention the rug world drastically lacks any impartial reportage.
Perhaps the most blatant of these selfish “let’s tell everyone to help pinner while we profit from that help” scenarios is the boswell’s incorporating some far better than pinner’s examples in this general sale.
Is rippon-boswell so desperate for business in early May to not be able to have held this general sale some weeks after the pinner collection sale date? Is maltzahn so stupid as to believe there is such an unlimited amount of cash sitting around to allow so many Turkmen pieces to not only find new owners but to do so at prices commensurate with their real value?
Are the maltzahn’s such greedy pigs that they care only about themselves and are willing to screw their consignors, both pinner and the owners of the other Turkmen rugs in the general sale, by straining the financial limits of a fragile market like that which exists for antique Turkmen weavings?
RK.com believes the answers to these questions are affirmative and besides, they’re easily deduced and reflect poorly on rippon-boswell’s integrity as merchants and as savants of the Oriental Rug market. By the way, both of these – integrity and rug market knowledge - are constantly trumpeted by the boswells in their ongoing efforts to differentiate themselves from the large auction houses and to secure good for their sales.
RK.com can only state maltzahn’s decision was a poor business decision and a totally selfish one. In addition, RK.com is positive if the pinner pieces had been slowly placed on the market over several auction seasons using several different venues - London, New York, California and Germany, the results would have been far in excess than the lumping them all together in one sale plan that pinner stupidly fell for, especially since it allowed the boswells to sell other and better Turkmen weavings than his on the same day.
For those of you who have not yet heard how the sale was conducted please note maltzahn sold the Turkmen pieces from the general sale by inserting them inside the pinner sale, as pinner’s were being sold numerically. This was but another effort to increase maltzahn’s take, remember rippon gets a 20% buyers commission, while allowing poor old pinner’s Turkmen “treasures” to suffer.
There were many mistakes made in the dispersal of the pinner collection, beginning with his failure to realize the need to sell the collection until the bitter end, then allowing little lord franses’s bungled efforts to sell the collection en masse, onto allowing certain collectors to purchase some of the best goods prior to the auction and culminating with another sale, by the boswells on the same day in the same room, with the inclusion of Turkmen weavings of a higher standard than his.
There has been no love lost between pinner and myself and the failure to capitalize on the worth of his collection in the end resides in his lap no matter how culpable or inept these others were. However, all those involved sure didn’t help poor old pinner to make the right decisions. Why? Isn’t that a non- sequitor? Because they were all busy counting the profits they planned to make by “helping”poor old pinner. What a load of crap.
Ok let’s now take a gander at some of the best lots in the general sale, starting with the Turkmen examples.
Lot 15, was a beautifully proportioned and balanced second quarter 19th century Yomud group main carpet in excellent condition. It was far superior in these regards to any main rug in the pinner collection and in comparison made his look tired and instantly forgettable. The estimate was a silly 9,000 euro and it sold for an incredibly reasonable 10,000 (all prices given here are hammer and do not include any premiums).
While not of truly high collector quality this main carpet nonetheless was early enough to possess the important characteristics classic Turkmen weavings are famous for – wonderful wool, amazing dye saturation and combination, technical expertise, and fascinating design and iconography. Here is the photo:
RK.com attends, and has attended, enough sales to know this carpet would have, in any other venue (even a small, unadvertised local countryside sale), outperformed the result maltzahn racked up. Plus remember, the boswells charge very high commissions so the consignor of this lot was, in street vernacular, royally screwed. Nice going detlef, you dummy. Don’t you realize screwing the consignor is the auctioneer’s deadliest sin?
The dual effect of putting Turkmens, and better quality pieces at that, along side poor old pinner’s often worn and torn inferior examples was, not only in RK.com opinion, nothing more than another nail in the pinner collection coffin.
The next Turkmen lot in the general sale, lot 63, was a superior and early Eagle group torba of a standard type now familiar to all collectors. The 12,000 euro estimate was almost foolishly reasonable as Eagle torba of this quality have changed hands regularly for twice that estimate. The photo:
The result was truly unfortunate for the unnamed consignor who got sucker punched by maltzahn into allowing his piece, which was better than any somewhat similar torba sized example in the pinner sale, to be sold on the same day as 120 other Turkmen weavings. What happened? It made a disappointing 8,500 euro(if it sold at all), truly a travesty since this was definitely one of the best of the type RK.com knows of and should have tipped the scales at about 20,000 euro on a good day.
What could malyzahn say to the owner other than “Gee I’m sorry” or “The market has spoken”? Both are totally lame excuses and were I in that consignor’s shoes I surely wouldn’t think twice about looking elsewhere to sell my rare pieces in the future. Hey, wouldn’t you?
Lot 64, a tent band whose only noteworthy aspect was its condition and completeness sold for 100 euro over the estimate, at 8.600. Here is the photo:
While it was nothing special, neither early nor unusual, it was equally as good as the single fragment in the pinner sale.
Did pinner only capture that one fragment? If so, he sure missed the boat as tentbands were until the mid-1980’s relatively cheap and not that hard to come by. I should know I bought quite a few that were much better ones than any of those in these sales. If pinner did manage to snare a few others were they, like many of the other pieces in his collection, sold before the boswells got their sticky fingers on his collection?
Lot 74 an Eagle Group main carpet in quite respectable condition was estimated for 26,000 euro slightly less than another Eagle group main carpet, lot 95, which had a price tag of 29,000. We will look at that piece next but suffice it to say it was far superior to this lot, and far more valuable than the measly 3,000 euro premium maltzahn put on it. The photo of lot 74:
But the vast majority of dummy bidders at the sale didn’t even notice and they made another one of their collective mistakes as they bid 52,000 for lot 74 and only 24,000 for 95. What a bunch of easily manipulated fools. If I were a collector of main carpets lot 95 would have been the only piece that would have gone home with me. All the rest paled in comparison.
Although lot 95 had only a single darnyk gol repeated in the field and lot 74 was a multiple gol example, in every other aspect 95 was superior – it was older, better proportioned, had better colors and weave, better main and secondary borders, not to mention the unusual and archaic elem panels. But because the antique collector rug world is overwhelmingly motivated by two not so important criteria – obsessive condition concerns and what RK.com refers to as the stamp collector mentality (that often values a design difference desire to own one of each type over other more significant aspects of judgment) – an inferior carpet like 74 sold for twice the price of the superior one.
Please now, dear readers, do not draw the wrong conclusions even though RK.com is throwing around the word inferior. As inferior as lot 74 is, it was far superior to anything in the pinner sale’s collection of truly inferior main carpets. Again we can ask: Did pinner have others that were picked off by the likes of sly h.c. sienknecht and others who were on the inside and got to buy prior to the public dispersal?
Here is the photo of lot 95 which was the best main carpet the boswells offered on sale day and sadly it wasn’t one of pinner’s:
It’s great piece and one of the few stars of the day that got taken home for a very reasonable price. Congrats to the knowledgeable and astute buyer.
Speaking of stars, lot 96, an Arabatchi torba was, in RK.com opinion, equally deserving of a star rating. It was one of the best of this type to have ever come on the market and the 6,800 euro estimate was another maltzahn dumb joke. Here it is:
It sold for a well deserved 26,000, still a song of a price for a piece of this age, quality and condition. It was another piece that dusted the pinner collection torba and made them all look like castoffs.
The last two Turkmen lots up for discussion, lots 111 and 112 present the perfect opportunity to see the lack of real connoisseurship and expertise in today’s Turkmen collector market and its ever ready willingness to grab flash rather than substance . The first, lot 111 a kapunnuk, was estimated at 9,500 euro(we should be so used to maltazhan’s absurdly low estimates by now mentioning them is just an exercise in futility) and it rightly soared to 32,000. Not too much for an extremely rare, good condition and exceptionally beautiful example that was worth every euro of the price its new owner paid. Here is the photo:
However, the same praise is not worth lavishing on the next lot, number 112. Here is a flashy, late - going on mid-19th century - torba that obviously appealed to the novice eyes of a number of collectors in the room and on the phone. Estimated for an already hefty 11,500, based clearly on its supposed Eagle group provenance and excellent condition, it, too, kited high - far too high in RK.com’s opinion - and finished its flight at an astonishingly overpriced 48,000 euro. Here is the photo:
Given a “vor (before) 1800” date in the catalog, just another specious overdated guesstimate by maltzahn and sienknecht, it surely was not that early based on the articulation of the minor gols and major border. Yes, dearies, the halved major gols at the bottom of the field were surely the kickers for those eager bidders competing for this later Turkmen torba. But, in reality, RK.com finds this feature to be rather disconcerting rather than appealing. The novice collectors out in full force on May 15 at Friedrichstrasser 45 were often motivated by that aforementioned stamp collector mentality while the more important and salient features of Turkmen weavings, which are often not as readily apparent to untrained or inexperienced eyes, went lost on them.
The almost 200,000 euro spent on the Turkmen weavings in the general sale would most probably have gone into pinner’s take and, again, maltzahn’s decision to siphon off possible sales from poor old pinner in his alleged hour of need stinks, no matter how even one as glib as maltzahn would vainly try to justify it.
Perhaps after taking such a verbal beating here on RK.com the boswells will try to defend their actions?
Rk.com would welcome their attempt to do so but we can assure them and our readers should the maltzahns try to defend thenselves with the same faulty logic that got them into RK’s gunsights in the first place they will fail miserably – just like they failed to realize for poor old pinner the maximum possible return from his four decades long collecting effort.
There were several other lots in the general sale, all non-Turkmen, RK.com would like to comment about. The first, lot 52, a supposed Borjalu Kazak carried a 27,000 euro estimate and apparently was unsold. The photo:
RK.com did not handle this rug but questions whether or not it was genuine. There are certain features of the drawing, which are not very convincing and while they might look ok to maltzahn, RK.com feels they aren’t. Was this reason for it being passed?
The second, lot 68, was a Kurdish rug with a star Kazak design. Here it is:
Non-Kazak star design rugs are rare and while RK.com does know of another that might still belong to a greasy, ex-lobster fisherman turned rug picker these rugs are not exactly plentiful. This one on offer at the boswells was a sparkling example, in quite good condition that carried a very reasonable 9,800 euro estimate. Like the Borjalu it was passed by bidders - it shouldn’t have been. The drawing was superior to many ‘real’ star Kazaks and RK.com is surprised some enterprising dealer or collector of Kurdish rugs didn’t decide to take this rarity home.
The third and final lot up for discussion was lot 85, a complete soumak khorjin. Granted the design here was on the rote and boring side, which is typical for soumak khorjin of the mid-19th century. Take a look:
However, they were colorful and the 4,200 euro estimate was reasonable but the 3,400 euro hammer price they brought even more so. Were they old or repro? This question is surely one to ask as, again, certain aspects do look rather suspicious.
Had almost any of these pieces illustrated here been entered into other sales they would have surely outperformed the mediocre results maltzahn achieved for their consignors.
Will maltzahn’s stupidity and greed in setting up such a pseudo-extravaganza of back to back sales come back to bite him on the butt in the future?
Time will tell but RK.com believes it can’t help but do so: Congrats maltzahn you deserve to reap what you have sewn – you stitched up poor old pinner and many of the other consignors but in the process didn’t you stitch yourself up as well?