Frances Lee Jasper Oriental Rugs

From the Desk of Frances Lee JasperThe World’s Most Expensive Oriental Rug

The World’s Most Expensive Oriental Rug

Ever wonder the cost of the world’s most expensive oriental rug? Well, today on the blog we are here to feed your curiosity.

To begin, picture yourself in 2013 at an art auction in one of New York’s most prestigious auction houses. You are surrounded by some of the world’s finest art, and all around you are people (like yourself) willing to spend upwards of millions of dollars on whatever priceless treasures they find most desirable. At first, everything is going mostly as expected. Piece after piece is revealed, bidded upon, and eventually sold to the delight of both seller and buyer. But then, things take an interesting turn.

The next work to be revealed is a gorgeous oriental rug. “This masterpiece,” explains the auctioneer, “is regarded as one of the finest rugs ever weaved in one of Iran’s finest periods of the craft. It recently came to us in a deacquisition from a prestigious American museum. Do I have any takers?” You, a connoisseur of oriental rugs, suspect the piece to be worth at most around $10 million dollars, and you wait to see which lucky bidder in the room will walk away with a deal. As the price approaches your estimated threshold, you wait to see the auctioneer finish the sale in a matter of moments. Only, the bidding does not stop at $10 million. It continues to go well beyond, and you observe in awestruck amazement as the price increases to $15 million… $20 million… $25 million…

You cannot believe what you are seeing, but the auctioneer finally closes the sale on a bid of $33.7 million, and the room bursts into a round of applause. You have all just witnessed the sale of the world’s most valuable carpet.

“The Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet”

Credit: Sotheby’s New York

This rug, though sold for a king’s ransom, truly is a wonderful work of art. Once belonging to American tycoon and fine art collector William Clark, it is renowned as one of the best examples of rug-weaving from the Iran’s Safavid period (1501-1736). These pieces were even then costly to produce due to the price of materials and the required manpower, and as a result they were typically only commissioned by members of the court from the most talented artists. For this rug, one of those artists chose to use what is now called a “vase” design due to the way the field appears to emerge upward as if springing from a container, and the pattern is made all the more appealing by the mastery of color that it boldly conveys. With such a rich history and stunning composition, the Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet has earned its price tag.