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 The Intelligencer / The Record - Sept. 1990
Oriental Rugs Sold to Benefit Earthquake Victims

Oriental Rugs Sold to Benefit Earthquake Victims

By Jan Murphy
Staff Writer

A Doylestown businessman is hoping his fundraising idea to benefit Iranian earthquake victims will be a step toward thawing the chilled relations between the United States and Iran.

Ali R. Nejad of Nejad Gallery in Doylestown, and his wife, Theresa M. Capaldi, have organzed a Sept. 15 charity auction of Oriental rugs in New York City to benefit those who remain without adequate food and shelter as a result of the June 21 earthquake that killed up to 70,000 Iranians.

The earthquake, which struck the northeastern section of the Middle Eastern nation, measured 7.7 on the Richter scale and was deemed to be five times stronger than the earthquake that struck San Francisco last fall.

Nejad, who grew up in Tehran, Iran, and came to the United States after the 1979 Islamic Revolution when the Ayatollah Khomeini rose to power, said he is working with the American Red Cross and the United Nations Disaster Relief Organization to be sure the money is channeled to provide emergency food for earthquake victims.

Despite the sour relationship that exists between the United States and Iran, Nejad believes it will not interfere with the auction's success.

"America is the most giving nation in the world and I feel they are ready to extend their hands and forget about what has happened in the past and try to look forward to having normal ties with Iranian people," he said. "That way we can live in peace and a better world."

Regarding the crisis in the Middle East, Nejad said he believes Iran realizes it can play a very important role in the conflict and will use it as "an opportunity to restore ties with America. I believe we are going to see a normalized relationship between Iran and America within the next few months."

That prediction partially grew out of the cooperation between Americans and Iranians that Nejad and his wife have witnessed while planning the auction.

The idea for an auction developed from the couple's desire to help those who lost homes, family members and their livelihoods as a result of the quake.

Knowing their own personal donation would not go very far, Ms. Capaldi said they considered contacting Oriental rug dealers in the area as well as in New York and New Jersey and asking them for a contribution.

"Then, we thought a better way would be to get rugs instead of (monetary) donations from dealers," Nejad said. "Since these rugs are valuable, we thought we could auction them off and that would bring the most money."

He and his wife tested the waters by making a few calls to other dealers and found the response to be "tremendous. Everyone was for it."

Working with students from the Rutgers University Iranian Culture Club, the couple gathered approximately 100 pieces ranging in size from 3 feet by 5 feet to 10 feet by 15 feet and valued from $1,000 to $30,000.

The organizers also received some free publicity and appraisal service from Oriental Rug Review magazine and Christie's International in Manhattan, which volunteered its auctioneering services.

It was decided the auction should be open to the general public as well as rug dealers and that no minimum bids be set. Also, Nejad said bidders must be present at the auction and that no absentee bids will be accepted.

A preview of the rugs to be auctioned will start at 1 p.m. with the auction following at 2 p.m. at the International House 500 Riverside Drive Manhattan.


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