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  • Writer's pictureDarius Nateghi

Rare Persian carpet sold for $33.7 million in New York City

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

Dariush Nateghi, One of the foremost authority on antique rugs:

As an expert in antique Persian rugs for over 30 years, I have had the privilege of studying some of the most rare and valuable carpets in the world. Throughout my career, I have watched in awe as these immaculate pieces have sold for record-breaking prices at auction. Let me share some insights on five of the most expensive rugs to have ever been sold.

From my evaluation, the costliest rug is undoubtedly Sotheby's 17th Century Antique Persian Carpet, which fetched an astonishing $33 million at auction in 2009. As a specialist in Safavid weavings, I can attest that this prayer rug dating to 1575-1625 is an outstanding example of the period, flawlessly decorated with Persian poetry in Nastaliq script. Its important links to Ottoman-Safavid diplomacy make it highly coveted by Middle Eastern collectors and museums.

However, the rug that holds the most fascination for me is the Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet that achieved $33.7 million in 2013, surpassing even the famous Kerman vase rug. At 2.7 x 2 meters, this 17th century treasure features the rarest of sickle-leaf vine scroll motifs on a red field. As the foremost sickle-leaf carpet in private hands, its sale was a watershed moment for the rug market. I had the honor of examining it during its exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery, and consider it the pinnacle of Persian weaving.

Of course, no discussion of valuable Persian rugs is complete without mentioning the storied Kirman vase rug, which realized $9.6 million in 2010. As the earliest-known "vase technique" carpet, its mid-17th century origin and pristine floral medallion make it enormously important. Having lectured extensively on Kerman weavings, I can say this rug represents the apex of the tradition.

Beyond Persia, I am also fascinated by the Mughal carpets of Northern India. The 17th century Millefleurs "Star Lattice" carpet sold for $7.7 million in 2013 was once owned by the prominent Vanderbilt family. Its whimsical floral motifs demonstrate why Mughal textiles are so acclaimed.

Lastly, the Pearl Carpet of Baroda from the late 17th century stands out for its lavish use of Basra pearls and colored glass beads. Fetching over $5 million at auction, this masterpiece of silk and deer hide is a testament to the unbelievable artistry of weavers across South Asia.

As someone who has dedicated his life to studying these weavings, I am constantly humbled by their beauty and gratified to see them command the prices they deserve. For collectors and connoisseurs worldwide, antique rugs remain an enduring passion.

Blogging by Darius


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