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"Generationally wealthy" art connoisseurs impacting market for 19th century oriental rugs
Rugs such as this early 19th century Persian Bakshaish rug are attracting the attention of 'generationally wealthy' clients at Claremont Rug Company who are increasingly adding art/investment level antique Oriental carpets to their private collections.

OAKLAND, CA.- Jan David Winitz, president/founder of Claremont Rug Company, today described his market for art-level 19th century Oriental carpets as increasingly being led by connoisseurs whom he describes as “generationally wealthy.”

According to Winitz, acknowledged as the world’s leading dealer of art-level antique Oriental rugs, “generationally wealthy” connoisseurs are people who have both an appreciation of the inspired artistry of the pieces and who have had the wherewithal for two or more generations to acquire them.

“After three decades working with major art collectors, I have come to the realization that there are people whose families have been acquiring art for generations, with an ability to recognize and to take advantage of an investment niche at the moment when the segment is still undervalued, but about to be recognized,” he said.

He said that many of his clients had “grown up” around art and in families whose had collected. “They value art and beauty highly and understand that the best antique Oriental rugs are both works of art and wise investments. While they have continued to be financially sound during the economic turmoil of the past several years, they see art-level rugs from the 19th century as a form of wealth preservation with the ancillary benefit of the awe-inspiring beauty and harmony that the carpets bring into their lives,” he said.

Winitz said that these clients recognize that the “moment has arrived in the market for antique, art-level Persian and other Oriental rugs when the carpets are beginning to move from an undiscovered art form to an important art collecting niche.”

Increasingly, published reports are citing that diminished returns from stocks and other financial investments have encouraged wealthy individuals to turn to art as an alternative asset class.

In the current issue of Private Wealth Magazine, the chief executive of Christie’s, Steven Murphy says, “Investors are entering the (art) market and existing collectors are buying more. The ease with which information and images can be accessed through the Internet is also helping create a fundamental increase in demand.”

Another key event affecting the market in a dynamic manner has been the heightened interest in art level oriental carpets from the 19th century generated by the recently opened, permanent exhibition of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The display features a series of important historic Oriental carpets from the 15th through 17th centuries, the “First Golden Age of Oriental Carpet Weaving.”

While the Metropolitan collection features pieces of historical importance, the major collecting segment remains the “most exceptional” rugs from the 19th century that has been referred to as the “Second Golden Age of Oriental Carpet Weaving.” These Persian and Caucasian rugs were produced primarily from ca 1800 to ca 1900. The rugs displayed at the New York Met and the rugs from this later period were made when the identical methods and materials were still employed and a similar level of artistic expression, which distinguishes them as the last rugs to be woven in the “Golden Age” tradition.

Since the first quarter of the 20th century, the methods and materials used to weave Oriental rugs have been greatly compromised by chemical dyes and labor-saving techniques, changing their renowned quality and artistic level irrevocably.

Winitz’s Claremont Rug Company, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, is one of the last remaining international galleries to carry an extensive inventory of exclusively 19th century carpets. Today, his carpets are valued in the range of $15,000 to more than $500,000 per piece. The inventory is comprised of more than 4000 19th century antique Oriental rugs and carpets, including oversize and palace size carpets and runners. Nearly 1000 are available for viewing on the Gallery’s website.

Currently, the site also contains a special “exhibition” that offers a rare look at 30 of the best pieces sold by the Gallery in 2011. “A dozen of these world-class Oriental rugs were sold to the current generation of clients who we would characterize as ‘generationally wealthy’,” he said. “It is further proof of the resonance and relevance of our position that great 19th century rugs are significant works of art and worthy of investment.” The rugs in this online exhibition were woven from the late 18th century to circa 1875.

Winitz, author of “The Guide to Purchasing an Oriental Rug,” also cited recent commentary from an investment advisor who specializes in art who said, “Ultra-wealthy families are prepared to tie up some of their wealth long-term in developing investments themes like…lifestyle assets. If they are investing true family wealth, they are prepared to take a longer term view.” In this environment, “it is only natural that the grandeur of rugs will spur collectors to seek out the diminishing supply of art-level pieces that are still available for purchase.”

Winitz said that rugs in particular recent demand included the best 19th century Caucasian rugs and Persian Ferahan Sarouks, Laver Kirmans and Hadji Jallili Tabrizs.

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