The continuing disenchantment with financial investments has proved to be a major boon to Claremont Rug Company
and its clients who are collectors of 19th century, art level Oriental rugs.
Citing the interest in his latest acquisition, Claremont president Jan David Winitz said the demand for the best of the best was unprecedented in his 30 years in the business.
We have nearly three dozen waiting lists for clients who are seeking rugs to add to their art collections and who are telling us that they are buying them as they move away from other investments, he said.
Winitz said that in the 90 days since he had unveiled the 175-rug Intercontinental Collection, the Gallery had sold nearly 80 percent of the pieces. The carpets range in value from $20,000 to $500,000 per piece. Normally, it would take almost a year to sell that percentage of a major collection. But frankly our clients are reflecting what is going on at the high end of investing and art collecting, he said. Rugs from the Second Golden Age of Weaving are precious tangible assets that represent one of the last undervalued segments of the art market.
A recent two-page feature article in the Wall Street Journal as well as pieces in Worth Magazine and The Financial Times of London have whetted collectors appetites as they have highlighted the importance, scarcity and artistry of museum-level 19th century carpets. There has always been a knowledgeable core of collectors, said Winitz, who is recognized as a leading global authority, but the secret is now out. Great rugs augment other forms of great art and they are still considerably undervalued versus comparable forms of traditional art in collections.
One highly publicized expression of the burgeoning interest in art level rugs was the recent sale of a 17th century Laver Kirman rug for $9.59 million at a Christies auction in London. The price, more than 20 times the estimate, was twice the highest price previous paid for a rug.
For its part, Claremont has acquired two major collections in the last several years. The interest in the Intercontinental Collection rivals that of the Hudson River Valley group of rugs in 2008, Winitz said, pointing out that the two collections are considered by rug aficionados as the two most important to come to market in decades.
The release of the final 45 rugs from the Intercontinental Collection, features rugs from a French art collecting family assembled over five generations. They can be viewed on the Gallerys website (www.claremontrug.com). This group was primarily kept at the familys estate on the Italian Riviera, one of its four principal residences. The others resided at:
The familys ancestral property, a chateau in the countryside outside Paris
A villa near Rio de Janeiro and
A two-story penthouse apartment in Manhattan
Winitz said, The family members have been major art and rug collectors for 150 years. The matron told me that her family always viewed Oriental rugs as an art form equal and in many cases superior to other types of art.
Because relatively few rugs of art-level quality were woven during the 19th century and because the majority of them are held in private collections, there is great excitement when they come to market, he said.
From the investment perspective, the Wall Street Journal recently summed up a major reason for the intense interest in art level rugs.
It wrote: Stocks had developed an almost cult-like following in the 1980s and 1990s, when they were among the best investments available. But in the past decade, big U.S. stocks have had the worst performance of nine major investment classes tracked by investment research firm Morningstar. (Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2010).
At the beginning of the year, Winitz declared 2010 as The Year of the Rug. It has proved to be a prescient and, for collectors of art level rugs, an enormously profitable prediction.
And this is not even to mention the great emotional satisfaction that comes from owning these irreplaceable, one-in-the-world objects of inspiring beauty, Winitz said.