When Claremont Rug Company announced an exhibit of a recent acquisition of 175 art-level, 19th century Oriental rugs, not even Gallery president Jan David Winitz was prepared for the response.
We know that art connoisseurs are increasingly turning their attention to the finest 19th century Oriental carpets, said Winitz, but we did not expect that we would sell more than 15 per cent of the rugs, including the one that we featured in our announcement on the first day. Word of the caliber of the rugs being offered spread very rapidly among our ongoing clientele the art and collecting community.
Rugs in the exhibit are valued between $20,000 and $500,000 per carpet.
In the past decade, only our Hudson River Valley Collection has attracted this level of interest, he said. Clients are very serious about making sure that they are investing in tangible assets of superb artistic merit. They know, as a recent article in the Financial Times pointed out, that there are only a finite number of great rugs left and they are keen to acquire what they can.
Winitz, who founded Claremont Rug Company in 1980, said that he had received eight serious calls about the $200,000, 175-year-old Bakshaish Camelhair pictured in the announcement of the exhibit. We sold it to the first client who had inquired.
The Intercontinental Collection exhibit, which opened on the Gallerys website
on Thursday, has already been cited by major art online publications for its provenance. The seller, a French art collecting family built the rug cache over five generations and housed it four principal residences:
Their ancestral property, a chateau in the countryside outside Paris
An estate on the Italian Riviera
A two-story penthouse apartment in Manhattan and
A villa near Rio de Janeiro.
Winitz, acknowledged as a leading global authority on antique Oriental rugs, said, The family members have been major art and rug collectors for 150 years. The matron we acquired the collection from told me that her family always viewed Oriental rugs as an art form equal and in many cases superior to other types of art.
The history of the rugs was not lost on one client, who acquired 15 rugs last weekend from Claremont for a whole home project, which Winitz characterizes as another increasing trend among his clients. These are clients who are interested in building collections as well as furnishing their homes and are transfixed by the sense of history and beauty that the best antique rugs bring to their lives, Winitz said.
Relatively few rugs of art-level quality were woven during the 19th century, and those still in existence are in private collections and seldom come to market. This accounts for their great rarity, as well as the excitement that surrounds the acquisition of such a wide-ranging collection as this, Winitz said.
"Many of our clients have been collecting antique rugs for a considerable number of years and are poised to act quickly when rugs of this level of rarity and provenance become available. This is enabling them to building formidable collections of pieces that are also appropriate for their decorative needs."
The Intercontinental Collection has been available for viewing and purchase, since last Saturday at the showroom, 6087 Claremont Avenue in Oakland and its website, www.claremontrug.com