Gallery Founder Jan David Winitz Cites Movement Toward "Top Level Down" Acquisitions
Claremont Rug Company founder/president Jan David Winitz, in his annual letter to clients, today reported that sales in 2020 pivoted from 80 percent of business in the Gallery or through in-home presentations and 20 percent online to almost the exact inverse.
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This Persian Bakshaish "Lion Rug", 5' 11" x 5' 10", circa 1800, was included in the recently announced 2020 "Best of their Type" listing of antique Oriental rugs sold by Claremont Rug Company in its 10th annual event. (Photo: Business Wire)
He also said that sales in High-Collectible, elite-level antique Persian rugs woven during the Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving (ca. 1800 to ca. 1910) were at record levels, despite the ongoing global pandemic.
He attributed the results to several initiatives that were undertaken for a period in March after California regulations required that he close the four-showroom gallery that he opened in 1980.
By instituting a series of changes to the website (www.claremontrug.com), "we were able to provide our clients with enhanced access to our collection and synergistically created more informed, confident and impassioned buyers," he said. "The results were tremendous and extremely gratifying," he said. Among the highlights here pointed out were:
An increase of 50 percent more new buyers than in 2019
Sales increases ranging from 40 percent to over 250 percent in various styles of Second Golden Age high-end antique Oriental rugs
Sales of South Persian tribal rugs, notably Qashqai and Afshar, up 250 percent.
Defining "high-end" carpets as High-Collectible and Connoisseur-Caliber pieces on the Gallery’s proprietary "Oriental Rug Market Pyramid" ™, Winitz said, "What transpired exceeded our most optimistic expectations!"
At Claremont, Level 2 pieces are designated "High-Collectible" and Level 3 are "Connoisseur-Caliber." Level 1 rugs, woven during the First Golden Age (ca. 1300 to ca. 1800), are primarily held in museums and by royal families and rarely available. Rugs at Claremont are valued in the $7,000 to more than $500,000 per piece range.
At the same time, the Gallery revealed its 10th annual "Best of their Type" event, representing the most outstanding rugs (50 in total) sold during the year (2020). The entire trove can be viewed on the website (www.claremontrug.com).
A High Collectible 4’3" x 6’10" Ferahan Sarouk "Vase Rug," from the third quarter of the 19th century
A Museum-Quality 5’11" x 5’10" Bakshaish "Lion Rug" from the turn of the 19th century and
A Museum-Quality 7’8" x 9’8" Laver Kirman ca. 1800.
From Brick and Mortar to a Primarily Online Gallery
"We began an unprecedented 20% Incentive and free approval shipping event," he said. "We began a regular program of twice-weekly educational emails to clients," he said. "On Wednesdays, we wrote about the enormous breadth of the antique carpets we maintain in our trove. On most Fridays, we sent illustrated, educational articles that I have written. This program has assisted our clients in developing much greater familiarity with the different rug traditions, their varied decorative uses, and their tremendous artistic contributions."
Claremont also dramatically enhanced its Search Engine Optimization (SEO) capabilities, which led to a nine-fold increase in international sales to clients in Canada and throughout Europe, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Qatar. Winitz has clients on six continents, including 75 Forbes’ list billionaires.
Reflecting on 2020, Winitz said, "I saw dramatically increased interest in several specific weaving groups." These included Bakshaish, which remained the most purchased style in room sizes for the fourth consecutive year, and folkloric Caucasian rugs (sales up percent), again the most acquired area size rugs. Exquisite Motasham Kashan saw a 50 percent uptick in sales, majestic Serapis over 60 percent, followed closely by Ferahan Sarouk, Hadji Jallili Tabriz, and Laver Kirman pieces.
Creating new ways to satisfy the most discerning clients
By mid-year, it was clear that the way that the Gallery acquired rarely seen High-Collectible and Connoisseur-Caliber rugs (Levels #2 and #3 on our Oriental Rug Market Pyramid) in the past could not meet the increased demand. This enhanced interest prompted Winitz to proactively reach out to many of these families (some of whom he has known for many decades). These longtime connections with collectors helped him to expand the spectrum of each of these rug categories.
"This instinct proved to be prescient," he said, "as in 2020, the number of High Collectible-caliber rugs we sold increased by 55 percent over 2019 and Connoisseur-Caliber rugs up by 30 percent over the previous year."
Last year, many more clients displayed rugs on their walls, with some even doing so with rugs in sizes up to 11×14. In 2021, Winitz predicts this being an entirely common occurrence, with the more adventurous embracing the trend of placing small rugs over furniture or even under glass on dining tables.
He also observed that "I am now thoroughly convinced that the current generation of buyers will be the last with access to a selection of art-caliber, 19th-century pieces. Further evidence of this is that in 2020 major auction houses only occasionally offered High-Collectible or Connoisseur-Caliber rugs and filled out their sales with primarily Level 5 Decorative pieces that have no intrinsic collectible value.
The "2020 Best of Their Type" event included three museum quality rugs, a magnitude that private galleries never have access to.
"In 2021, I believe that recognizing that the finest 19th-century rugs are in notably diminished supply, a substantially greater number of clients will purchase rugs to create Whole Home Rug Displays, and also to keep them in our art storage facility or in rug cellars they construct in their homes. This year, I am confident that there will be intensified acquisition by both US and international collectors for both Level 2 and Level 3 rugs. Their intrinsic artistic merit and limited availability will also continue to increase our clients’ attraction to the upper echelon of 19th- century, one-of-kind High Decorative carpets."
About Claremont Rug Company
Jan David Winitz’s Claremont Rug Company (www.claremontrug.com), founded in 1980, is an international art gallery with an inventory of 2500 Oriental rugs woven during the "Second Golden Age of Persian Weaving," (ca. 1800 to ca. 1910). The Gallery, located in Oakland, CA does not participate in off-site exhibitions, shows, or auctions.
Among its client-focused services are its Whole Home design consultations, a long-term trade-in policy, and its educational focus. Widely written about, Winitz has been featured in publications including Apollo, Art & Antiques, the Financial Times, Luxury Daily, the New York Times, moneyinc.com, Private Air/Luxury Homes, PrivateWealth.com, Robb Report, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Wall Street Journal, and Worth magazine. Rugs at Claremont are valued in the $7,000 to more than $500,000 per piece range.
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