The Moghadam Gallery has been displaying colourful Persian rugs since 1977. The gallery’s founding father, Alexander Moghadam, soon to be 86 years old, but who could easily pass for ten years younger, is preparing to hand over the reins. Let’s look back at the fabulous destiny of an outstanding trader, with an an inspiring passion for carpets.
A chance meeting changed everything. At the time, he couldn’t have imagined for a single second that his life was about to change. When fate holds unexpected surprises in store… On a trip to Monaco, Alexander Moghadam and his family book a table at Le Méridien. On the terrace, with dinner already well underway, the Princely Family arrive at a table a few metres away. Prince Rainier III, Princess Grace Kelly, their daughter Stéphanie and young Albert II take their seats. A perfect opportunity to take a photo.
Princess Grace asks me where I’m from, what I do, why I’m here. I tell her that Monaco is a paradiseAlexander Moghadam
“I went up to them and started talking to Princess Grace”, recalls Alexander Moghadam, in French tinged with a hint of the Orient. “She asks me where I’m from, what I do, why I’m here. I tell her that Monaco is a paradise.” Then Grace Kelly asks this young German of Iranian origin why he does not settle in the Principality to ply his trade. “I ask her if she’s kidding,” he smiles. “She was serious.”
The gallery was inaugurated in the presence of Grace Kelly
The very next day, Alexander Moghadam starts to look for a store in Monaco. But there is a problem. To display his rugs, he needs space. Where might he find a 300 m2 premises when the vast majority of shops on boulevard des Moulins are under 50 m2?
“Six months later, a real estate agency called me and suggested this space, which housed antique paintings, for 1.3 million francs. I jumped at the chance.” After a year of building work, the Moghadam Gallery was inaugurated in 1977, in the presence of Grace Kelly.
At the time in Iran we had seven million people working in the carpet industry. Today, there are fewer than two million…Alexander Moghadam
From that day on, Alexander Moghadam and his family have never left the Principality. And the gallery is getting ready to blow out its forty-five candles. An incredible lifespan, that has its roots in Germany, in Frankfurt, at the beginning of the 1960s.
“I worked for an airline (Lufthansa) in the cargo department,” he explains. “I must have been about 17, 18 and the pilots, co-pilots, air stewards and hostesses were looking for rugs. I would take them to the bazaars in Iran and act as a go-between.” With his commercial flair and innate sales sense, he made a killing. “I made three times more than my salary in commissions! So a pilot asked me why I didn’t open a store in Frankfurt.”
He also looks after the Nepalese consulate
So, having started out with a little luck but a lot of passion for carpets at the age of ten – “neither my parents, nor my brother and my sister are in this field” – he opens his first store. And then a second. Until there are six. “The Germans were starting to get their spending power back. The carpets were selling very well. At the time, in Iran, we had seven million people working in the industry.. Today, there are fewer than two million.”
I’ve worked my whole life, it’s time to turn the page. I want to travel and take care of my consulateAlexander Moghadam
An ancestral tradition for 2,500 years, the carpet industry has started to run out of steam in recent years, a victim of competition from China in particular. But also because tastes have changed. “The younger generation prefers rugs that are more contemporary, plain with no pattern.” In fact his son also runs a shop in Monaco, with modern furniture and rugs. He will take over from his father in January. “I’ve worked my whole life, it’s time to turn the page. I want to travel and take care of my consulate.”
Because as well as his business, Alexander Moghadam takes care of Nepal’s diplomatic affairs in Monaco. “The country is close to my heart. They are wonderful people who live in poverty. We try to help them by organising charity functions. I also handle issuing visas for tourists from the French Riviera who wish to go to Nepal.” A word to the wise.