CALOUSTE GULBENKIAN MONSIEUR 5 %
At Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, Berdj Achdjian will talk about the great Armenian collector Calouste Gulbenkian, several of whose rugs, on loan from his Lisbon-based foundation and museum, are on display (in the exhibition Le Ciel dans un tapis).
Timothy Gerwin reports: Concluding the lectures, Paris dealer Berdj Achdjian recounted tales about a huge figure in the carpet world, a man well represented at the IMA’s exhibition, Calouste Gulbenkian. “Monsieur 5 % “, as all knew him, said the works in his collection were like his children; after 45 years spent gathering them, their care was his greatest concern. He insisted that repair work be done in his home and met Berdj Achdjian’s father, a restorer, as he sat on the floor of the Gulbenkian home working on a carpet. A proud Armenian born in Kayseri, Turkey, Gulbenkian had no formal education in art history. His wealth and good taste being necessary but not sufficient, his collection’s richness is due to Gulbenkian’s many connections with art dealers, art historians, and related experts; he sought multiple recommendations before making any acquisition. Fortunately for those of us who enjoy his legacy, Calouste Gulbenkian was not cheap.
Next morning Achdjian welcomed Hali, collectors such as Betthany Mendenhall, dealers like Mr Vrouyr from Antwerp, specialists, including Marcel and Annettte Korolnik-Andersch, and the Louvre to view an impressive range of North African weavings, including a bold Moroccan Ahmar carpet. Everyone pored over three 19th-century embroidered Tunisian silk marriage tunics, and the tour of Achdjian’s inventory ran from a 15th-century Armenian brocade from Jerusalem to a luxurious First Empire cape with ermine border. After lunch under the Pyramid of the Louvre, the party ended with a walk through the Islamic galleries.
this article has been first published in Hali Magazine on line