The World’s Most Expensive Carpets

Ever wonder what an antique carpet worth millions looks like? Here are nine stunning examples of the most expensive carpets ever sold at auction, including one worth more than $33 million


Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s

# 9 At Sotheby’s London’s “Arts of the Islamic World” auction on October 7, 2009, this Safavid silk, wool, and metal-thread prayer rug was estimated at $127,368 to $191,052. The circa-1575-to-1625 carpet, inscribed with Persian verses in nastaliq, earned a whopping $4.3 million, making it the ninth most expensive carpet ever sold at auction. The inscriptions suggest that it may have been a diplomatic gift from the Safavid Persian court to the Ottoman Turks.

Photo courtesy of Christie’s

# 8Three carpets of this exact design by Pierre-Josse Perrot were made for the Crown Furniture Repository in France, the administration responsible for furniture and art inside the royal residences. ThisLouis XV Savonnerie carpet,woven sometime between 1740 and 1750, was the last one produced. The carpet surpassed an estimate of $2 million to $4 million, selling for $4.4 million, as part of Christie’s New York’s November 2, 2000, sale “Magnificent French Furniture.”

Photo courtesy of Christie’s

# 7 According to historians at Christie’s, this silk Isfahan rug is an exceptional example of Safavid art during the reign of Shah Abbas (1587–1629). Which may be why the circa-1600 carpet maintained an esteemed provenance throughout the years, residing in the collections of art collector and philanthropist Grace Rainey Rogers, Armenian-American archaeologist and art collector Hagop Kevorkian, as well as Doris Duke and the Newport Restoration Foundation. The lot garnered $4.45 million at Christie’s New York’s June 3, 2008, “Oriental Rugs and Carpets” sale after being estimated at $1 million to $1.5 million.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s

# 6 This central-Persian Isfahan carpet (circa 1650–1699), was estimated at $800,000 to $1.2 million for Sotheby’s New York’s “Important Carpets from the William A. Clark Collection, Corcoran Gallery of Art” sale on June 5, 2013. The lot, which had been on display in the Corcoran Gallery of Art, sold for $4.65 million.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s

# 5 The Pearl Carpet of Baroda is a circa-1685 masterwork of silk and fine deer hide, embroidered with strings of natural Basra pearls and English colored-glass beads. Estimated at $5 million, it sold for $5.548 million at Sotheby’s Doha on March 19, 2009. The carpet is set with approximately 2,500 table-cut and occasional rose-cut diamonds set in silver, as well as foil-backed rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, all set in gold.

Photo courtesy of Christie’s

# 4On April 28, 2000, Christie’s Monaco held a sale of items from the collection of Karl Lagerfeld, including this Louis XV Savonnerie carpet,which is one of three designed by Pierre-Josse Perrot. Thanks to its star-studded provenance, the circa-1750 carpet (estimated at $5 million to $8 million) sold for $5.7 million.

Photo courtesy of Christie’s

# 3 This Mughal Millefleurs “Star Lattice” carpet from northern India was once owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II and displayed at the family’s West 57th Street residence in New York. The carpet subsequently graced the Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, when Vanderbilt passed it along to his daughter. Estimated at $2.4 million to $3.2 million, the lot was sold by Christie’s London for $7.7 million on October 8, 2013.

Photo courtesy of Christie’s

# 2On April 15, 2010, Christie’s London sold a Kirman “vase” carpet—estimated at $307,600 to $461,400—for an astonishing $9.6 million. The mid-17th century piece is the earliest known example of the popular Persian carpet design called the herati pattern.

Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s

# 1 The most expensive carpet ever sold at auction is this sickle-leaf vine scroll and palmette “vase” carpet,circa 1600 to 1650. After being displayed as an example of outstanding Persian carpet weaving in museums and galleries—including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Textile Museum, the Asia House Gallery, and Fogg Art Museum—the carpet was estimated at $5 million to $7 million. Because the sickle-leaf design is the rarest of vase-technique carpet patterns and this is the only known example featuring a red background, Sotheby’s New York was able to sell the lot for $33.7 million on June 5, 2013.

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