Home > Archive >Escalator Prices @ sotheby
Sat, Dec 18th, 2004 12:04:03 PM
Topic: Escalator Prices @ sotheby

There were some foolishly high prices paid for a few of the better mid and later 19th century Caucasian rugs and RK.com is not surprised. For the last few years a number of neophyte collectors and high-end decorator type dealers have been slugging it out for these pieces.

This paddle pounding has produced a new price structure that has eclipsed the old one that was formerly determined by a few German dealers and client-collectors.

The goods are the same, flashy german-condition workshop and factory rugs. These pieces have "text-book" designs but none of the real magic and evocative charm the rarely seen earlier 19th and late 18th century rugs they are 'copied' from possess.

As RK.com is completely disinterested in rugs like those at sotheby, or the market outside auction rooms for them, and we will refer readers to their spb catalog and prices realized to see for themselves what is happening.

The first part of the sale supposedly sold a little less than 2/3 of the lots, with 33 passed lots, and, as usual, the "decorative" second part did quite better. Aside from the contested Caucasian "decorator" rugs no other lots turned in surprising results.

RK's prediction lot 55, the Wher supposed "karapinar", would not sell was incorrect and, in hindsight, we now understand why we miscalculated.

This lot sold to a phone bidder, who we'd guess is Senor "i bought the Brunk rug". He'd be about the only person to want this fragment, especially after its very recent unsuccessful offerings, both privately and at auction.

The price paid, $72,000 with premium, is far less than it sold for in the London Bernheimer Sale and, of course, the subsequent offerings since then. Plus the buyer, Senor "i bought the Brunk rug", is known to the trade to be a tough bottom-fisher when not holding a paddle in his hand. Add to that bottom-fishing with cheap dollars and getting a second-place finisher with provenance and pedigree to add to his marvelous, and far more important, Brunk piece -Voila, a sale. There was no-one else bidding and presumably he bid against the reserve. Had he been really crafty hed have let it pass and bought it afterwards for even less.

This is, in our estimation, what went down around lot 55. Again, this is conjecture, and we might be wrong.

There is not much else worthy of our attentions to report about the sale except to congratulate the buyer of the Caucasian embroidery fragments, lot 5. They sold for $3000, a price Rk considers a steal, considering all the chasing some folks did for those Caucasian rugs that couldn't hold a candle to those fragments, even in a blackout.

Such is the capriciousness and myopia of the rug market at auction...well at least for now. We do believe eventually things will change and the historic rugs and weavings will take their rightful place at the top of the rug market.

After all this progression- from good condition basically commercial examples to often damaged but genuine and historic ones - has happened all other art areas. The only reason for it not happening to Oriental Rugs is the lack of much real expertise and concomitant absence of positive provenance in the rug world.

Rk.com knows well the reasons for this and frankly is tired of seeing nothing being done about it.

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