Company History

Victor Lidchi – Fine Persian Carpets & Rugs

Every company has a history of some kind, but few are as long and colourful as the Lidchi name in South Africa. Our roots stretch back as far as 1936, but in this industry, a lot earlier than that too, before South Africa…

The History of the Lidchi Family

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The famous Henri Lidchi, Victor’s father, buying in Tehran in the 1950s

The history of the Lidchi family’s interest in Oriental carpets goes back to the 1860s.

The family originally came from Spain. However, at the time of the infamous Spanish Inquisition in the sixteenth century, being Jews, they were forced to flee Spain, and by way of the Greek Isles, found their way, eventually, to Constantinople, Turkey.

In the 1860s the family had set up business as dealers in, and exporters of, Persian and Turkish rugs in Constantinople (now Istanbul), which was then the world’s central market and gateway to the West for Oriental rugs. Up to that time, the Lidchi family had reputedly dealt in textiles and works of art. But, with the growing demand for eastern rugs in the prospering West for the mansions of the newly wealthy, the family saw potential for growth in this business.

By the late nineteenth century, “Lidchi” was becoming a well-established and respected name in the trade in Constantinople and amongst dealers from the West.

Henri, the son of the founder, was a rebel. He wanted to see the world, and could not be persuaded to stay at home. His father and uncles finally sent him on his way with a purse of gold coins and a half a dozen good rugs. Rather new to the ways of the world, he apparently had his purse stolen soon after arriving in Marseilles, France!

However, he managed to save enough money from working as a restorer in Paris where he gradually prospered and ended up as a dealer of some note in Paris. Later, he made his way to the United States. There, as a very young man, he made his fortune by associating himself with the leading dealers in fine rugs, such as the Mayorkas Brothers and the Costygians, amongst others.

He eventually numbered amongst his USA customers leading industrialists and families such as the Fords, the Rockefellers, the Duponts and the Wideners.

Established himself in business in Paris

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In Paris, early 20th century

In the early 1920s, he established himself in business in Paris, which was then the art centre of the world, in the Boulevard Haussmann, and later in the Avenue de l’Opera. Although he was something of a maverick, Paris society was fascinated by his strange ways and his Eastern charm.

He became advisor and supplier of rare rugs to families of note, amongst them the Renault family (of motor car fame), bankers such as the Rothchilds and the Omberts and to government Minister Bonet. He also became friendly with, and accumulated and dealt in the works of, the great artists of the period such as Modigliani, Raoul Duffy, Maurice Utrillo, Marc Chagall, Vlamink and Suzanne Valadon, the model of Renoir.

Going Global

From Paris, he traveled the world and exhibited at international fairs and expositions in Milan, Ghent, London, San Francisco and Brussels, and finally at the Empire Exhibition in Johannesburg in 1936, at the urging of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer of De Beers fame. Because of a spontaneous love for South Africa and his pioneering instinct, he settled in Johannesburg soon after.

In South Africa, his clients included Sir George Albu, Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, Sir Julius Jeppe, the Schlesinger family, Jack Scott, General Jan Smuts, and Sir Francis de Guingand.
Offices that had been established in London and Paris were run by his close friend, Jacques Moddiano until Europe had recovered from the ravages of the Second World War.