One day as I was walking along the 3rd Avenue fair in NYC, my heart stopped for a second when I saw a rug draped over a chair on display. I new immediately it was an antique handmade Shirvan rug.
I walked over to take a closer look and realized that it was a great rug and in excellent condition. I asked the sales person “How much?” and he responded, “USD20.” I moved slowly to bely my enthusiasm and said, “Oh well, I only have USD20, but can I give you USD17 so I can get a pizza?”
He demanded the full $20. I handed over my money and rolled up the rug and put it under my arm. As I began to walk away, the sales person stopped me and said, “I work for NYC Sanitation and whatever I pick up on the sidewalks that I think has value I sell later at street fairs. How much do you think that rug is worth?”
I just shrugged and replied, “I think USD20 seems like a good price…” The real valuation? USD4500.
On another day, as I walked down my old block in NYC on 25th St. between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, my heart stopped again and I almost fainted. Rolled up by the garbage cans was a Kashan rug, but not a normal one as it was an extremely fine example made by the great master weaver Mohtashem.
I began to sweat as I unrolled the 7′ x 5′ rug. It was amazing, and dollars started flashing in front of my face. Maybe $50,000 or $75,000 for the right collector…
But my dreams turned to nightmares as I continued to unroll the rug. The second half of the rug had oil, grease, and other ground-in dirt all over it. Someone had used this beautiful piece of work in a kitchen! I went into a depression :)
But because a handmade carpet – especially one as fine as a Mohtashem – takes so long to make and is so intricate, it is always worth something, even if the person cuts squares out of the rug and makes them into pillows. Worth: USD3000.
And on 24 October 2007, a kindred spirit saw a painting in the garbage, just twenty minutes before the garbage collectors arrived. The painting is to be auctioned off next month to the tune of about $1 million dollars. God Bless Her!