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.