Q: What was your occupation and lifestyle in your native country Turkey?
A: I was a student, hoping to study economics. But restoring antique rugs was an interest for me from an early age. My grandfather gave me a beautiful Turkish rug. I was a teenager, 17 years old. It was a Turkish rug from Konya Ladik region, a prayer rug. There was a hole and selvage was missing, and the border on the side was missing. We knew a repair man and we sent it to him. Three months later, we got it back. My heart was broken, it was horrible what he did to it.
He put patches on the holes and cut the original selvage off. It looked like a cheap machine-made rug. This rug had been a beautiful work of art, like a great painting. Now it was ruined by bad repair.
I knew at that moment I wanted to help save these great works of art from my country in the future.
Q: Did you come to NYC alone or were you accompanied by someone? Who joins you living here in NYC?
A: I came to the United States 20 years ago with my wife, two suitcases, and $200. Now we have two beautiful intelligent girls, 18 and 14.
Q: What led up to your leaving your native country to come to NYC?
A: I was 19 years old, I asked my father if I could live in Strasbourg in France, to study economics and learn to speak French. He said yes. After living 10 years in France I came to New York in 1988.
Q: How do you size up your experience so far living in a city such as NYC?
A: What I did in New York I wasn’t able to accomplish in France or my native country Turkey. Because of Americans, Americans are the most wonderful people in the world. America is truly the land of opportunity.
Q: Please share a scary, unusual, funny or challenging story that illustrates your experience coming here and living here.
A: Most people have a story like that. In my case when I came to America, I was going to live in California . In the first week I found a job here in New York; I never went to California.
For the first five years I worked for my boss Berg Andonian, a very well-known antique Caucasian Rug dealer. Five years later I opened my store in the Chelsea Antique Building and for the first time I started to serve the public. Then I moved to my current location, at Lexington Avenue and 65th Street.
Q: Talk a little bit about your products and services.
A: Some of the finest rugs in the world are in my shop. I help people understand their value and how to care for them. I also advise them on how to choose the rug that will be exactly right for them. We work closely with clients, both people who own museum-quality pieces and people who are considering acquiring a rug or tapestry for the first time.
And of course we do restoration for major museums and serious collectors. You never know what you will find here. I had a Mogul Pashmina rug sold for $6,000, and six months later I saw in the Sotheby’s auction catalog an estimate of $250,000-$350,000. It sold privately after the auction for $140,000.. This shows you that absolutely amazing bargains sometimes happen.
Q: Why should someone buy antique oriental rugs?
A: Let me tell you, the reason to have rugs like this is because they are fabulous works of art, one of a kind. They transform a room into something special and unique. If you buy a machine made rug, in a few years it’s worth less money than you paid for it.
If you buy a genuine antique tribal or oriental rug, not only will it look beautiful in your home and be a joy to look at every passing year, but I know of cases where a person bought a rug for relatively little money and the rug in short time increased in value. But I think you shouldn’t buy an antique rug because it will increase in value, but rather because you love it.
Your home is an extension of yourself. The things you choose to have in you home say a lot about you. When I see a room with real antique oriental rugs or tapestries, I know the person who lives here has a certain level of education, of sophistication in the best sense of the word — that is, this person is familiar with things of great beauty and value in the world.
The good thing about antique rugs is that they go beautifully with every style of furniture. You can have very modern or highly traditional furniture and it will be made better by an antique oriental rug or tapestry.
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