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The art of rug weaving, passed down through generations, is a testament to human creativity and craftsmanship.
Often, these intricate masterpieces command prices akin to those of high-end art pieces. This article journeys into the opulent world of rugs, featuring some of the most expensive rugs ever sold at auction.
From the Persian masterpieces to the jewel-encrusted treasures of Indian royalty, each rug tells its own story of historical grandeur, unique artistry, and cultural richness.
Prepare to be captivated by the spellbinding beauty and the astounding price of the most expensive rugs ever sold.
6. The Louis XV Savonnerie Carpet
Another noteworthy entry in the annals of high-priced rugs is the Louis XV Savonnerie Carpet, a striking piece from the mid-18th century. It fetched $4.4 million at a Christie’s auction in London in 2000.
Produced in the renowned Savonnerie Manufactory in Paris, which catered to French royalty, this luxurious carpet exemplifies the opulent Rococo style associated with Louis XV’s reign. The design features a central floral medallion surrounded by lavish botanical motifs and intricate borders, all brought to life in a rich color palette.
The Louis XV Savonnerie Carpet previously adorned the floor of the Louvre’s grand salon and is considered one of the finest examples of Savonnerie carpet-making artistry. Its superior craftsmanship, historical provenance, and royal association significantly contribute to its high value.
5. The Mughal Millefleurs “Star Lattice” Carpet
The antique Mughal Millefleurs “Star Lattice” Carpet was sold at a Christie’s auction in London in 2013 for 4.7 million US dollars.
It is an 18th-century Indian rug, part of the Millefleur carpets collection which contains a total of just 12 rugs. It features a Star-Lattice design with a lot of floral motifs. The most consistent color is red, with a thick blue frame. Its dimensions are 388 cm by 411 cm.
This rug has been previously owned for over a century by the Vanderbilts, a powerful American family. It was used as a wall decoration for one of the smoking rooms of the Vanderbilt residence in New York.
4. The Pearl Carpet of Baroda
Taking a step beyond the traditional realm of woven textiles, The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is an extraordinary piece, which is more akin to a dazzling piece of jewelry than a conventional rug.
Commissioned in the late 18th century by the Maharaja of Baroda in India, it features over two million natural Basra pearls, encrusted with diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies set in gold. The carpet’s estimated value was confirmed when it was sold for a staggering $5.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Doha, Qatar, in 2009.
The rug’s design is richly ornate, displaying an elaborate mosaic-like pattern with a large central rosette, mirrored corner pieces, and wide decorative borders. The careful placement of the gemstones creates an impressive visual impact, highlighting the opulence of the rug and its remarkable historical significance.
3. Kirman ‘Vase’ Carpet
The early 17th-century Kirman ‘Vase’ Carpet fetched $9.6 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London in 2010, firmly positioning it amongst the most expensive rugs ever sold. The carpet hails from Kirman, Southeast Persia, an area recognized for its refined and elegant rug designs.
Named after its recurring ‘vase’ motif, the rug exhibits an extraordinary degree of detail in its intricate design. The primary patterns consist of a dense network of floral sprays, palmettes, cloud bands, and the signature ‘vase’ motifs, intricately woven in colors of blues, reds, and creams against an ivory field.
The high knot density of this rug, combined with the artistic complexity of its design, underscores the technical mastery and aesthetic sensibility of its weavers.
2. Rothschild Tabriz Medallion Carpet
The Rothschild Tabriz Medallion Carpet is one of the world’s most expensive rugs, truly a masterpiece in its own right. Sold for a breathtaking $24.3 million in a 2008 auction, this late 16th-century rug originates from Tabriz, a city renowned for producing some of the finest Persian rugs.
This carpet is well-known for its impressive dimensions and for being part of the collection of the legendary Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild of Vienna. It is distinguished by its elaborate central medallion, a classic feature of Tabriz rug designs, set against a richly adorned navy-blue field.
The carpet’s detailed ornamentation includes a profusion of intricate floral motifs, reflecting the opulence and refinement of Safavid court carpets. The provenance, age, state of preservation, and extraordinary artistry significantly contribute to the rug’s staggering value.
1. The Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet
The most expensive rug ever sold was a 17th-century Persian carpet that went for $33.76 million at Sotheby’s in New York in 2013.
The Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet was originally part of an extraordinary collection of Persian and Oriental rugs owned by industrialist and U.S. Senator William A. Clark.
Measuring 180 cm by 240 cm, the rug showcases a mesmerizing ‘vase’ technique, a particular style of Persian carpet weaving, and is celebrated for its sickle leaf design over a vibrant red background. Intricate floral patterns in a harmonious color scheme flow through the carpet, offering a feast for the eyes.
The unprecedented auction price of this Persian rug not only confirmed its unique aesthetic and historical value but also underscored the enduring demand for rare and high-quality antique rugs.