The Big Persian…

by forrest fenn

Many of the objects in my collection are significant in a very small depiction of world history. Most are more interesting than they are important. Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to remember that each piece represents who we once were in a time that used to be, and that I will never be anything more than its temporary custodian. 


MotorolaPagerDon Johnson asked on this blog how I acquired my big Persian rug so I’ll tell that story.

Early in my gallery career my secretary bought me a beeper. I hated those things but she was tired of trying to chase me down every time something at work scared her.

Soon after, I was in town drinking coffee with Ramona Scholder. It was important that I drink at least one cup a year so I could continue to remember why I didn’t like the stuff. I added a lot cream to help deaden the taste.

When my beeper buzzed I looked at the screen, “Forrest, call your office right this second.” Well, that was my first episode with that apparatus and I wasn’t overly pleased with the trend.
I was informed that one Mrs. Stranalee in Northern California was holding on the other line and was in a dither because she couldn’t be late to her hairdresser. She was liquidating her wealthy mother’s estate that included some antiques.

“Mrs. Stranalee said a few years ago you offered her mother a bunch of money for some paintings and wants to know if the offer still holds,” my secretary said.” “Tell her that if I made the offer I’ll honor it,” I countered, not remembering what the deal was.

golf course

Approaching the fairway

Two days later I landed on the eighteenth fairway of her mother’s private golf course. My single-engine Rockwell Commander was turbo charged so I figured I could make it if I took off downhill into the prevailing wind. Landing wasn’t a problem.

When I climbed out of the plane at her back door, Anna (we had become first-name buddies on the phone) handed me a glass of iced tea and said, “Nice landing, but we have only 30 minutes because of the golfers.” I didn’t tell her I had my own reason for wanting to hurry.


A lovely Fechin

So I bought four Fechin paintings, two Gaspards, and an Ed Borein watercolor. As I was packing the art in my baggage compartment, Anna asked, “What am I gonna to do with that big rug? (It was 14 by 26 feet and took 8 men to carry) I told her I’d buy it if she’d pay the freight to Santa Fe. She said “Okay.”


An authentic big Persian

“But what am I gonna to do with that piano?” It was a beautiful antique Steinway baby grand with a finish that looked like five colors of black, and had crystal ball feet that were clawed. I told her I’d buy that too if she’d pay the freight to Santa Fe. She smiled, and thought a few seconds. “No, maybe I’ll give it to my church and make them come get it.”

We were burning sunlight and Anna kept looking at her watch. So I quickly wrote a check and headed for the back door. “Come back when you have more time and we’ll play some golf,” she said. I waved good-bye just as a Federal Aviation inspector buzzed at her gate. I think his arrival added a few revs to my propeller.

Those were good flying times when I could bend the rules a little and not worry too much. Couldn’t get by with that today, and that’s why I stopped flying.

And now, Don Johnson, you know how I acquired the 135 year-old Persian rug that’s on the floor in my office.

31 thoughts on “The Big Persian…

  1. I have 2 turkish hand made rugs that I love. My wife’s parents gave them to us and they might have come from their parents. They are not as pretty as your persian rug, but having something like that makes you appreciate all the work that went into creating it. Shame you didn’t get the Steinway. And as always, great story.

  2. Fechin paintings are incredible. Forrest you should post a story about a favorite painting by Eric Sloane some time. I love “Spring Clouds”

  3. What an exciting life you’ve been blessed enjoy Forrest. We love hearing your stories.

    Joke: what did the Persian rug say to the floor? Don’t worry I’ve got you covered.

  4. Fechin was truly masterful in capturing intimate honesty with beautiful brush work; his use of color defines the composition as much as his subjects. Forrest and Peggy understood how important his work would become – early adopters make for great collectors of art.

  5. Sometime ago I was a picker, traveling to various places in search of antiques.
    On a few occasions I had the pleasure of viewing some serious collections.
    That rug is surely an eye catcher 🙂 Love the painting too.

    Thank you for sharing Forrest.

  6. Forrest.
    Are you not getting a little bullish with the hints. I hope they wont all charge at once that would be costly. Also regulations can help to keep things safe. Great Story…

  7. I love the beautiful colors and designs of Persian rugs and bought some inexpensive copies. Did you actually design a room in your home so that you could have a place to lay this rug? 🙂

  8. Thank you again Mr. Fenn for sharing with us another great story. At one time Dal had a couple of pictures on this site of you sitting at your desk on the Persian carpet. I remember you had slippers on. In one of the photos there was a film crew and their equipment in the same room standing on the carpet. I would have made all of them wear hospital slippers.
    Your stories are priceless.


  9. Forrest, we so appreciate you introducing us to extraordinary artists and antiquities. You mentioned Ed Borein, which is an artist I’m familiar with because he was much like CM Russell. They lived as authentic cowboys with God given talent to paint the American authentically. For anyone passing through Santa Barbara it’s worth your time to visit a terrific museum showcasing Borein’s work. He lived there before Oprah bought it 🙂

  10. I’m convinced Forrest that if you were a bank robber–all of your robberies would take place in broad daylight. Right there in plain sight on Main street 🙂

    • I’ve literally had the same thought, and I partly agree. He could do it in broad daylight.
      But not Main Street –his aspirations would be higher/more creative: don’t you think? More Thomas Crowne than Bonnie & Clyde. 😉

  11. So, f., when are you coming out with that children’s book? Will it have a story about the friend that knocked on your door in NY? I think his name started with a D… Dwayne something or other? IMO, you would tell a mighty fine children’s tale that they could read while filling their bellies with milk. Maybe you could write about your dog. I think anytime is a good time for a good story. This story falls into this good story.

  12. I agree Slurbs. Ready for another good story from Forrest. Pull up a chair, and light the campfire. If his story is boring, there is always s’mores. Jk Mr. Fenn:-)

    • In Questions with Forrest , FF said the he found out he’s not someone into fiction, so the children’s book is no longer happening.

  13. So coincidence or creepy? We have watched both of those movies in the past two weeks!

    PS I was 10 or 12 before I realized Main Street actually had a street name.

  14. @JC1117 Thank you for posting S&G’s ‘Scarborough Fair’ with the subtext lyrics which I had never read or understood their beautiful echo of sadness until today.

    I can’t help thinking Forrest’s “Clarion Call” is a strong appeal for all people to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Love conquers all! If we could simply love one another as we love ourselves… war and strife would disolve in warm waters of joy.

  15. too bad you couldn’t fit that rug into the chest! it is truly beautiful.
    Did you sell that particular fechin painting? That’s one I would have kept.

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