Actually, we were not allowed to sell any rupas, consecrated or otherwise. So no statues, no thangkas, no rice-paper block-prints of Deities. We only sold "ethnographica," i.e., Tibetan chatzkes. We did sell bells and dorjes, phurbas, and malas, both new and antique. At that time, there were still a lot of authentic Tibetan antiques available. We kept a thangka of Thangtong Gyalpo on our wall, but it was not for sale. I sometimes did buy (for my personal collection), thangkas and statues from people coming back from India/Nepal would bring to our shop. The store was called Kangchen Dzod Nga (i.e., Kanchenjungnga), but because no one knew what that was or how to say it, it was usually referred to as the Tibetan antique shop on Thompson St. (We started on East 5th St. between the Bowery and 3rd Ave.)
Rudi was the one selling rupas. Also Ohni Z (a.k.a. Jane Mulder), sold rupas at her "Western Paradise of Ohne Z" on W. Broadway in Soho. However, she put a lot of her ethnographica in our store. She was the New York front for the notorious Simon White in KTM. (Ohne was murdered a few years ago in her bathtub in Anchorage, Alaska.) Juan Li, a Cuban-Chinese dealer, also sold his ethnographica through us. We often sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Natural History, the Newark Museum, and the Field Museum in Chicago. John Lennon, Yoko Ono, the supermodel Samantha Jones, and Patti Smith were also customers. H.H. the Dalai Lama's brother, Tenzin, had his store up-town on Madison. He sold a lot of clothes and jewelry. His collection of antiques was much less than ours, but his store of currently produced arts and crafts was always better than ours.
Yes, I did know Rudi. We would visit each other's stores from time to time. Sometimes he bought from me, never the other way round. Too expensive and way too questionable sourcing.
So many memories. So many stories.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ