World Record Rugs: The Most Expensive Rugs Ever Sold

| 21/04/2017

Persian rugs are more than decorative flooring. They bring an authentic aesthetic to a home. The rug’s material quality, knotwork, design, and colours all work together to create a beautiful focal point. Furthermore, these pieces represent a rich history and culture. Some of them have lasted through wars and empires. Historians have even found Persian rugs that are thousands of years old. Because of their artistic and historic value, Persian rugs are also some of the most expensive carpets collectors can buy.

Want to know which rugs sold for the most money? Check out these top-dollar Persian rugs:

Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet, $33.8 Million USD

The Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet was a vibrant carpet with intricate details that included vines and flowers. The Corcoran Gallery of Art stored this rug for decades before putting the rug up for auction. When it sold for $30 million in 2013, it didn’t just break previous world records-it shattered them. This 8 ft. by 6 ft. (2.4 m by 1.8 m) carpet showcases the “vase” technique, which uses three shoots of weft between rows of knots. Persian rug makers perfected this technique during the Safavid dynasty in the 16th and 17th centuries. Despite its age, the Persian rug still maintains its deep red colour.

The Kirman Vase Carpet, £6.2 Million

The record holder for the most expensive rug in 2010, the Kirman Vase Carpet, auctioned for nearly 20 times its expected price. Its auctioneers estimated this 11 ft. by 5 ft. (3.3 m by 1.5 m) rug to sell for only £200,000, but an anonymous bidder bought the carpet for £6. 2 million to the sound of rapturous applause. According to William Robinson, Director of the Rugs and Carpets at Christie’s, this 17th-century Persian rug exhibited charm, subtlety, and balance. Its seemingly simple design reflects the talent at Kirman, an Iranian city said to have the most influential and inventive carpet design.

The Pearl Carpet of Baroda, $5.4 Million USD

Before the Kirman Vase, the Pearl Carpet of Baroda held the record for most expensive rug ever sold. In 2009, the rug auctioned for $5,458,500 USD at Sotheby’s. This particular rug is unique in that it blends Persian and Indian traditions. It features an average of 78 pearls and beads per vertical dm (10 cm) and 68 per horizontal dm, totalling 2.2 million pearls and beads. Auctioneers estimated the weight of the pearls totals to 30,000 carats. But that’s not all. This carpet holds 2,500 tablet cut and rose-cut diamonds, approximating to 350-400 carats. All of these are set in silver and topped with gold or blackened gold.

Silk Isfahan Rug, $4.4 Million USD

This silk Persian Isfahan carpet held the world record in 2008. Christie’s sold the 7 ft. by 5 ft. (2.1 m by 1.5 cm) for $4,450,500 USD. The rug is an example of Safavid art during the reign of Shah Abbas (1587-1629), and it uses silk for both the warp and weft of the rug. It features an intricate, graceful double system of scrolling arabesque vinery. Its mellow golden colour boldly contrasts its green and scarlet pin-wheel rosettes. Multiple scholars praised the rug for its “refinement, imagination, perfection of technique, [and] infinite charm of colour.”

16th Century Tabriz Medallion Carpet, $2.4 Million USD

In 1999, Christie’s set yet another record for Persian rugs. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani purchased this 16th-century rug for $2.4 million USD, far above its $410,000 estimate price. He bought the carpet, along with two mosque lamps, through dealers and over the phone. Compared to the other Persian rugs on this top-selling list, the Tabriz Medallion Carpet is massive. It measures over 21 ft. by 11 ft. (6.4 m by 3.6 m). Like other Persian rugs made in Tabriz, the carpet features spectacular medallions and masterful motifs. And despite its age, the Tabriz rug retained its full colour without any hint of fading.

Ziegler Mahal Carpets, $170,500 – $182,500 USD

While these two Ziegler Mahal carpets might not shatter world records on their own, together they are definitely two of the most expensive rugs ever sold. Sotheby’s sold both Central Persian rugs, which were from the Peter Terian estate, in 2008. The first rug, selling for $182,500 USD, tripled its estimated price of $40,000 to $60,000 USD. It measures 18 ft. by 10 ft. (5.6 m by 3.2 m), and it features its original flat woven end finishes. Its brother, selling for $170,500 USD, quintupled its estimate price of $20,000 to $30,000 USD. It measures 24 ft. by 17 ft. (7.3 m by 5.2 m), and it has a soft colour palette that appealed to collectors. Unlike the first rug, this second rug was in much worse shape. It had holes and moth damage, which lessened its value, but the damage was repairable.

Priceless Value

While these Persian rugs sold for top dollar at auction houses, their intrinsic value is priceless. Whether you’re a collector or simply want to improve the look and feel of your home, never underestimate the value of a Persian rug.

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