Safavid Rug Auctioned for $4.34 Million

. October 8, 2009

A stunning Safavid rug from late 16th or early 17th century Persia sold for £2,729,250 ($4.34M US) this afternoon at Sotheby’s in London . The rug was purchased by an anonymous buyer after a prolonged contest in which at least five bidders vied for the piece. The price of the silk and metal-thread prayer rug was over 20 times the pre-sale estimate of £80,000 – £120,000.

The inscriptions on this fabulous prayer rug of remarkable quality and condition suggest that it may have been a diplomatic gift from the Safavid Persian court to the Ottoman Turks, indeed possibly even on the occasion of the Peace Treaty between the two empires in 1590, from the court of Shah ‘Abbas to the Ottoman Sultan Murad III (r.1574-95).

Globally recognized rug expert Jan David Winitz of Claremont Rug Company said, “The sale of the Safavid for $4.34MM (US$) is indicative of the astonishing interest in the most rare, one-in-the-world Near Eastern rugs that art connoisseurs and collectors are avidly seeking out. Its price demonstrates that the previously established value levels of these nearly impossible to find rugs have significant room for growth. (The Safavid had a pre-auction estimate of £80,000 – £120,000. ($130-190,000 (US$).

The rug was part of Sotheby’s sale of Arts of the Islamic World that totalled £7.9 million, well in excess of pre-sale expectations. Discussing the rug Edward Gibbs, Head of the Middle East & India Department at Sotheby’s said “The price of £2.7 million – many multiples of the top estimate – is a testament to the quality and rarity of this stunning piece which was the highlight of our Arts of the Islamic World sale today in London.”

Category: Auction News

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