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Portland Oregon Silk Rug Find is a Treasure in New York

What has a difference of 2900 miles, 4 months, and 29 times higher "estimate" price?

A silk Persian rug that was sold at a Portland Oregon auction in July 2008, then brought to a Sotheby's auction just 4 months later in November 2008.  The rug had an average auction estimate of $2,150 in July, then catalogued by Sotheby's with an average estimate of $62,500. 

Here's the data:

Description Lot 678: Silk Tabriz Prayer Rug, Late 19th century.  Silk on Silk, 4' x 5'8"
Lot 166: Heriz Silk Prayer rug circa 1875. 4' x 5'3"
July 16, 2008
November 25, 2008
Location  Portland, Oregon
 New York, NY
Lot Estimate $1,800 - 2,500
$50,000 - 75,000
Unsold, Passed or Withdrawn
   Silk Tabriz, OGallerie  Silk Heriz Sotheby's

Here's our take on this Now and Then rug... 

Inspecting and comparing higher resolution photographs between Auctioneers OGallerie and Sotheby's, we determined 8 points quick points of design reference to indicate these were an exact match despite discrepancies in size (OGallerie may have included fringe).  Sotheby's also noted the provenance as well, which indicated this was in fact from the Jesuit School auction sold by OGallerie.  So, this is the same rug from what we gather.

Although originally the rug was sold at the Oregon Auction as a benefit for the Jesuit High School, the carpet did come with a "appraisal Value" of $20,000.  It is certainly conceivable that this rug could have sold at the Sotheby's auction closer to the lower lot estimate of $50,000:  It's not unheard of to purchase a rug at a local or otherwise lower profile auction, then flip it with an auctioneer with higher exposure. The original estimate provided by OGallerie was very, very low for this variety of rug.  Although we have not seen auctioneers explicitly state they do this, we do believe it's not uncommon for select lots to be cited with very low estimates to encourage wider buyer interest and thereby generate additional bidding activity.

We were actually lucky enough to see this rug in person: Regarding the discrepanciy of tabriz vs. Heriz attribution, we agree with the latter.  The rug featured typical characteristics of a silk Heriz attribution: the colors, style, design, loose spin of the silk pile, greyish yellowed 2 cord selvage, and the classic antique silk heriz orange field.  One element which through us off course a little was the knot orientation.  There was a 90 degree offset of the knots, so only one node of the knot was visible from the back.  This is somewhat atypical of a silk Heriz, although not entirely exclusive.  The rug was in excellent preservation, it had a healthy near full pile, with some loss to the fringes.  The design is somewhat unusual, and Sotheby's noted this in their catalogue description. 


PS.  With information taken from Sotheby's Site and from our own inspection, Take a look at what the RUG ESTIMATOR PRO says this rug is worth at Retail!  4/12/09 CORRECTION, single ply as seen below


Silk Heriz Single Ply

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Ant. Silk Heriz


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May 18. 2009 14:44

Tom O'Grady

In your article you stated: "It is certainly conceivable that this rug could have sold at the Sotheby's auction closer to the lower lot estimate of $50,000"

BUT IT DIDN'T SELL FOR $50,000. It seems to me your article is immaterial since you're comparing apples to oranges, a sold lot to an unsold lot. The rug is worth what people are willing to PAY.

Tom O'Grady

May 18. 2009 19:23


Interesting point, but I don't agree with you Mr. O'Grady.

We're making note of the perceived value as placed on the item between one auctioneer's estimate to another KNOWING the price someone did actually pay.

Enjoy, & Thanks for commenting.


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