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“The Year of the Rug”

  • Forbes.com

May 3, 2010 – Forbes.com

Approaching its 30th anniversary, Claremont Rug Company declared 2010 “The Year of the Rug” and recent sales at the Gallery and of a rare carpet at auction have dramatically reinforced the claim.

The most authoritative demonstration of the burgeoning interest in art level rugs was the sale of a 17th century Kirman rug (left) measuring 5 x 11 for $9.59 million at a Christie’s auction in London on April 15. The price, more than 20 times the estimate, was twice the highest price previously paid for a rug.

At the same time, Jan David Winitz had just opened The Intercontinental Collection, an exhibition and sale of a 175-rug collection of 19th century Oriental carpets with a remarkable provenance. The results have been no less astounding, with nearly 50 percent of this art-level collection having sold within the first month of the exhibition.

“This is truly a collection that appeals to the ‘best-of-the-best’ audience,” he said. “Art collectors are increasingly turning to antique rugs as an important, yet considerably undervalued segment of the collecting market…and in the current collection, it has been the top rugs that have attracted the greatest initial interest.”

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“Art collectors are increasingly turning to antique rugs as an important, yet considerably undervalued segment of the collecting market.”
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He said, “Connoisseurs are recognizing that art-level 19th century rugs are the next segment of the market to be discovered, now that museum-level pieces are achieving record-breaking prices. They offer much of the allure of yet earlier pieces, but have the additional attraction that they can still be used on the floor.”

In the past three years, two rug price records were set for historic pieces. “Museum-level Oriental rugs are strongly entering the arena of major art collectors. At the end of 2009, two historically important rugs sold for more than $4 million each,” said Winitz.

He added,“Our clients are very serious about making sure that they are investing in pieces of superb artistic merit that are also tangible precious assets. 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 desire them for their own collections.”

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“Connoisseurs are recognizing that art-level 19th century rugs are the next segment of our market to be discovered, now that museum-level pieces are achieving record-breaking prices.”
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The current exhibit at Claremont features rugs from a French art collecting family assembled over five generations that served as the focal point of their four significant residences in France, Italy, Brazil and the United States. “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. He noted that he has already completed four “Whole Home Projects”, where clients have focused on rugs from The Intercontinental Collection to entirely furnish their residences.