May 16, 2024

Timeless Treasures: Discover the Record-Breaking Value of Persian and Oriental Antique Rugs

Some of the world's most expensive rugs showcase exceptional craftsmanship and serve as rare artifacts of history, as with each passing year, more pieces are lost to time. Although it would be easy to price a rug based on one factor alone, a proper evaluation must be made based on material, historical significance, quality, design, age, demand, and more. Each piece deserves its place in history as rare finds such as the following become increasingly harder to discover.

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Exploring the World’s Most Exclusive Antique and Vintage Rugs

While researching the history behind some of the most valuable antique rugs in the world, one gains a sense of appreciation for preserving true craftsmanship. If not for the efforts of connoisseurs and collectors, the rarity and significance of these rugs would surely go underappreciated. Let’s dive into some of the most expensive,exclusive rugs ever sold.

1. The 17th Century Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet

The Clark Sickle-Leaf carpet broke a world record for the most expensive rug ever sold at auction in June 2013. This exquisite piece of craftsmanship is a rare and genuine example of a Persian rug masterpiece. Originally appraised at about $10,000,000, it sold for an astonishing $33,700,000 at Slotheby’s auction house.

If you’d like a comparable rug at a more achievable price, inquire about our Iranian MALAYER 10024373, which features a similar symmetrical design, border, and color palette. This piece is also in great condition with little to no fading. Let’s dive into some of the key factors that make the Clark Sickle-Leaf a one-of-a-kind treasure:

  • Rarity: This area rug is an extremely rare 17th-century piece, as very few survive the test of time in such great quality. This factor alone had a big influence on the piece's value, which was approximately triple the previous record.
  • Design: Upon first glance, this antique rug may look similar to most Persian area rugs. However, look closely and see the intricate, symmetrical “sickle-leaf” motif rarely found on the market today.
  • Age: Not only is the craftsmanship and quality of this rug enough to drive up the price, but it also dates back to the 17th century in Persia, known as modern-day Iran. It is considered one of the earliest surviving pieces in such pristine condition.

2. The “Comtesse de Behague” Vase Carpet

Not to be mistaken as less rare or desirable than the previously mentioned, the “Comtesse de Behague” was last sold for nearly $10,000,000 at Christie's in London in 2010. This exceptionally well-preserved piece dates back to the Safavid Dynasty in Ancient Persia and is a rare example of 17th-century Middle Eastern rug craftsmanship.

This stunning, large antique rug features an elaborate pattern of vases and florals set against a vibrant blue background. The design for this piece was executed with precision, making it a prime example of the unparalleled skill held by these ancient artisans. For an antique rug with a similarly stunning blue hue, check out our handmade Kerman 12x23 rug.

3. The Vanderbilt Mughal Millefleurs Star-Lattice Carpet

Perhaps renowned for its ability to make the room spin, this antique rug showcases one of the most intricate designs ever seen on a carpet. The Vanderbilt Mughal Millefleurs Star-Lattice piece has gained worldwide attention for its impressive rarity and quality. Cornelious Vanderbilt II previously owned it and later sold it for $7,600,000 at Christie’s in London in 2013.

This antique rug is one of only twelve known Millefluer rugs from the Mughal Empire, which ruled modern-day India, dating between the 16th and 19th centuries. The design features a densely packed field of small, colorful flowers in a vibrant color palette. Our Iranian VINTAGE TABRIZ 10024821 parallels the intricacy, color palette, and size of the Star-Lattice piece. Both rugs feature an uninterrupted design and border with no central motif, unlike many common Persian rugs.

Why Do Some Antique Rugs Fetch High Prices?

If you're interested in acquiring an antique Persian or Oriental rug, it’s hard to understand why some rugs sell for millions of dollars while others sell for thousands. Just like the craft of rug-making, authenticating these pieces takes years of practice and skill-building.

To accurately price an old rug, the authenticator must consider various factors, including the characteristics oft he rug. External influences like supply and demand also influence the price over the years. Although they’re unique in their own ways, each antique rug that has sold for millions of dollars shares the following similarities:

  • Preservation: Found to be a common trait in valuable rugs, the immaculate preservation of these pieces is a key driving force behind their high price tags.
  • Age and Origin: Finding prime examples of 16th, 17th, and 18th-century antique rugs from various regions is increasingly difficult. Each piece that survives becomes more valuable over the years.
  • Authenticity: With a product as easily traded and gifted as a rug, it can be difficult to trace the source of craftsmanship. However, these rugs have a well-mapped history, making authentication much easier.
  • Design: It’s not enough to be old and well-preserved to rationalize a multi-million dollar price tag. Each rug must be a shining example of rare motifs and patterns not found on other pieces worldwide.
  • Demand: Previously owned by significant people like William A. Clark and Cornelius Vanderbilt II, these pieces represent wealth and prosperity in modern society. Prior to bidding and sale, the auction house was relatively unaware of how much each rug was worth.

Acquire Your Next Treasure from Lawrence of La Brea

Experience luxury and style with Lawrence of La Brea’s exclusive collection of handcrafted rugs. We have a stunning selection of antique rugs to compliment your home’s interior design with a statement piece or subtle accent. Browse our collection online at Lawrenceof La Brea or stop into our Los Angeles showroom to see our handpicked selection of rare rugs. Our team is standing by to help you find your next treasure, contact us today to start your search.

David Nourafshan

Passionate reader | People person | The one behind Lawrence of La Brea
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