Rare Looms

Rare Looms    11/12/2009

by Suzanne Koudsi,
As seen in Hamptons County

hamcocov

“Everybody is gifted at something,” says Turkish-born Hayko Oltaci, encircled by multicolored rugs and tapestries. His gift just happens to be more valuable than others.

When Oltaci was 16, his grandfather gave him an old Turkish rug that needed some repair work. He took it to a rug restorer and decided to take up restoration as a hobby. Oltaci didn’t plan on making a career out of carpet restoration and never had any formal training. He just did it because he enjoyed it. While studying economics in France, he repaired rugs to earn some extra money.

“Everybody is gifted at something,” says Turkish-born Hayko Oltaci, encircled by multicolored rugs and tapestries. His gift just happens to be more valuable than others.

When Oltaci was 16, his grandfather gave him an old Turkish rug that needed some repair work. He took it to a rug restorer and decided to take up restoration as a hobby. Oltaci didn’t plan on making a career out of carpet restoration and never had any formal training. He just did it because he enjoyed it. While studying economics in France, he repaired rugs to earn some extra money.
Today, the 38-year-old runs a successful carpet restoration business in Manhattan. His client list includes some of the city’s most esteemed dealers: Christie’s, Rafael House, Mary Boone Gallery and Bloomingdale’s. Last year someone came all the way over from Dubai, Saudi Arabia to have Oltaci repair his rug.

“I use Oltaci when the work is difficult,” says Benjamin Aryeh, “I can’t give Oltaci what is beneath him.” Aryeh, the president of Rafael Gallery on Madison Avenue, first observed Oltaci’s work when he was visiting another carpet dealer where Oltaci worked. “There are hundreds of carpet restorers in New York,’ says Aryeh, but “very few have Oltaci’s ability and experience.” When Aryeh needed a Kazak rug repaired, he took it to another restorer and wasn’t satisfied when he got the rug back. He took it to Oltaci and the result was near perfection.

“Everybody is gifted at something,” says Turkish-born Hayko Oltaci, encircled by multicolored rugs and tapestries. His gift just happens to be more valuable than others.

When Oltaci was 16, his grandfather gave him an old Turkish rug that needed some repair work. He took it to a rug restorer and decided to take up restoration as a hobby. Oltaci didn’t plan on making a career out of carpet restoration and never had any formal training. He just did it because he enjoyed it. While studying economics in France, he repaired rugs to earn some extra money.

Today, the 38-year-old runs a successful carpet restoration business in Manhattan. His client list includes some of the city’s most esteemed dealers: Christie’s, Rafael House, Mary Boone Gallery and Bloomingdale’s. Last year someone came all the way over from Dubai, Saudi Arabia to have Oltaci repair his rug.

“I use Oltaci when the work is difficult,” says Benjamin Aryeh, “I can’t give Oltaci what is beneath him.” Aryeh, the president of Rafael Gallery on Madison Avenue, first observed Oltaci’s work when he was visiting another carpet dealer where Oltaci worked. “There are hundreds of carpet restorers in New York,’ says Aryeh, but “very few have Oltaci’s ability and experience.” When Aryeh needed a Kazak rug repaired, he took it to another restorer and wasn’t satisfied when he got the rug back. He took it to Oltaci and the result was near perfection.

“Everybody is gifted at something,” says Turkish-born Hayko Oltaci, encircled by multicolored rugs and tapestries. His gift just happens to be more valuable than others.

When Oltaci was 16, his grandfather gave him an old Turkish rug that needed some repair work. He took it to a rug restorer and decided to take up restoration as a hobby. Oltaci didn’t plan on making a career out of carpet restoration and never had any formal training. He just did it because he enjoyed it. While studying economics in France, he repaired rugs to earn some extra money.

Today, the 38-year-old runs a successful carpet restoration business in Manhattan. His client list includes some of the city’s most esteemed dealers: Christie’s, Rafael House, Mary Boone Gallery and Bloomingdale’s. Last year someone came all the way over from Dubai, Saudi Arabia to have Oltaci repair his rug.

“I use Oltaci when the work is difficult,” says Benjamin Aryeh, “I can’t give Oltaci what is beneath him.” Aryeh, the president of Rafael Gallery on Madison Avenue, first observed Oltaci’s work when he was visiting another carpet dealer where Oltaci worked. “There are hundreds of carpet restorers in New York,’ says Aryeh, but “very few have Oltaci’s ability and experience.” When Aryeh needed a Kazak rug repaired, he took it to another restorer and wasn’t satisfied when he got the rug back. He took it to Oltaci and the result was near perfection.

That is oltaci’s ultimate goal. Every year he repairs hundreds of rugs, and usually “one becomes perfect,” not 99 percent perfect, but 100 percent. If you can see the repair work, then it hasn’t been repaired, he adds.

A 27 by 37 foot, 17th century Turkish Oushak Medallion was in desperate need of restoration. Elizabeth Poole, head of the carpet department at Christie’s, gave it to Oltaci. When the work was done, “I couldn’t even see where it had been restored,’ she says.

Oltaci’s interest in carpets runs deep. He also likes to buy and sell them, he says as he explains the differences between the Persian and Caucasian rugs hanging on the walls of his workshop. The success of his restoration business has allowed him to explore his passion of buying and selling carpets.

For each rug that he repairs, Oltaci estimates the cost by calculating how much time it will take for the reparation. Restoring a rug can cost anywhere from $50 to $20,000. Sometimes he quotes customers a certain price and the work ends up taking a lot longer.

While there are easier jobs, where one can make more money, he says. In this business, “you’re never really paid your value.”

But Oltaci doesn’t seem to mind. He likes what he does, and that’s what seems to matter most to him.