RK.com has learned the reason for Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed al-Thani's removal center around allegations he participated with a number of "respected" Islamic Art dealers in padding invoices and other behind-the-scene profit schemes for his personal benefit.
We have also heard allegations michael, aka little lord, franses is one of those “respected” purveyors the Sheikh has purchased objects from and is implicated in this ongoing "art story of the year".
So far these allegations are just that, allegations, and no actual substantiation has yet to emerge into the public sphere.
But the Sheikh's dismissal is a fact and so, too, is an investigation by English authorities into this matter as many of these "respected" dealers, like little lord franses, are based in London or do business there.
For those of you not familiar with franses, here is the photo of himself he proudly displays on his website:
Over the last 30 years franses, who is a high-school dropout and grandson of Sam Franses, the leading carpet dealer in London in early years of the 20th century, has climbed his way up the rug business ladder. Starting off as a junior member of the London "carpet-mafia", a group of traveling rug pickers and dealers who scour the countryside antique auction sales and shows, franses then worked in a west-end gallery and eventually went into business with his father. By the way, his father and three uncles were all rug dealers, however, unlike his brothers Robert Franses, michael's father, never opened a fancy shoppe in the west end.
Jack Franses, another of michael's uncles, gave up his shop-keeping and assumed the rug expert post at sotheby's London where he remained in charge for about 20 years. Although michael's father Robert, was the least successful of the brothers he was an exceedingly friendly and kind man, both traits his son somehow managed not to inherit.
RK did business with michael in the old days but in 1983 franses's obnoxious penchant for control and domination destroyed that relationship and RK has not had any contact with him since.
We have, however, been privy to many of franses business dealings, especially those done over the last decade with immensely wealthy "mid-east" clients, like the Sheikh.
In all fairness we respect franses's efforts to build the best library of rug books, he is seen in the photo standing in front of his prized book-cases, as well as his study of classical carpets. We do not agree with some of his ideas and conclusions but recognize his concentration on these high culture weavings.
That said let us also remark that his efforts to understand non-classical rugs - like Turkmen, early Turkish Village rugs for example - are not nearly as laudable. In fact, many of franses's ideas and conclusions about them are on par with dennis dodds, who can't discern a circa 1800 late period reproduction Turkish Village rug from the genuine mid-16th century example.
For anyone who doubts this RK suggests a careful look through franses's advertisements in hali magazine where numerous similar rugs to the dud LACMA bought from dodds are pictured. Also check out advertisements from johnny eskanazi, who for decades has fronted pieces for franses or owned them with him as a partner.
Furthermore many of the myriad of later, far from best of type, examples of Turkmen rugs in the pinner collection were bought at franses's behest or from him. Same with a number of Turkmen and Turkish pieces in the Wher Collection, many of which have now been quietly, or not so quietly, spirited out of that collection.
The has been no love lost between RK and franses, as his puny attempts to control what we do and say, as well as his catty practice of spreading stupid stories and innuendo about us, are, in the end, laughable.
To say franses thinks himself king of the rug world might downplay his maniacal obsession to "prove" himself better than his family and others.
We could go on but see no point, as what we have said gets the picture across quite effectively.
By the way, we started calling franses "little lord" because of the great financial success he has had dealing rugs to Sheikhs, Emirs and Sultans.
As it appears he might now have to pay the piper for those riches.
As more details of this story emerge RK.com will be covering it. So stay tuned for more news coverage and analysis.