Market outlook and auction news

Category: Auctions

by Hagop Manoyan.

Lot no. 50, a ‘Variant’ Star Ushak Carpet. Christies “Oriental Rugs & Carpets” 15 April 2010. Photo courtesy Christies.
Lot no. 50, a ‘Variant’ Star Ushak Carpet. Christies “Oriental Rugs & Carpets” 15 April 2010. Photo courtesy Christies.

In general business it is still a bit slow – but that should come as no surprise to anyone. During a recession people are not interested in gambling on their purchases. When times are good, everything sells. But when times are slow, people want to make sure they are getting high quality for their dollar. For the dealers with higher quality rugs there are still great opportunities in the industry, and now is the time to be buying if you come across a good rug at a fair price.

I have some good news to report about recent Christie’s and Sotheby’s London auctions. On April 14, a Safavid Hunting Rug (Lot #357), dated 16th or early 17th century fetched 217,250 UK Pounds (around $350,000). Also in April, Christie’s London sold an Anatolian Star Oushak rug (Lot #50) for 265,250 UK Pounds.

But the real news was Christie’s London breaking the world record for selling a 17th century Persian Kirman Vase Carpet (Lot #100) for 6,201,250 UK Pounds (around 9.5 million dollars). The carpet was 11’1″x5’0″ and was in good condition.

There are a couple of museums in the Middle East which are buying good quality, early Islamic carpets to form collections. Because of this, when a really nice piece shows up on the market we see strong prices for them. For some of these museums in oil producing nations they are strapped with cash and willing to spend big numbers for high quality carpets. All of this does help bring positive energy to the market, and it is good for the industry.

Lot no. 100, a Kirman “Vase” Carpet. Christies “Oriental Rug & Carpets” 15 April 2010.
Lot no. 100, a Kirman “Vase” Carpet. Christies “Oriental Rug & Carpets” 15 April 2010.

On the other hand, just because a few early carpets fetched big numbers does not mean the rug business is recovering overnight. Pieces like these are very rare, so the high prices they fetched have little bearing on rug dealers working in the “real world.”

A good indication that the market has improved is when we see Caucasian, Anatolian, Persian, Chinese and Turkmen Rugs, etc., selling in the auctions and fetching good prices. As this starts to happen it will create added demand in the market and encourage dealers and collectors to buy more rugs.

In the short-term, I believe the greatest result of the these record prices in the auctions is that people are seeing and hearing about them. Hopefully this help people realize that antique rugs and carpets are pieces of art, not just something to walk on, and they were woven with love and passion. The process of weaving a rug is rooted deeply in history, design, color and beauty. The more people realize this, the more they will understand the value of fine rugs and demand them in the same way that people now demand paintings and other objects of art.

Lot 357, a Safavid Hunting Rug. Sothebys “Arts of The Islamic World” 14 April 2010. Photo courtesy Sothebys.
Lot 357, a Safavid Hunting Rug. Sothebys “Arts of The Islamic World” 14 April 2010. Photo courtesy Sothebys.

Hagop Manoyan, Hagop Manoyan Antique Rugs



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