The World's Most Expensive Persian Carpet

The Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet - with complex design and vibrant history - has entranced scholars and collectors alike for decades.

Mary Jo Otsea discusses the complex design and vibrant history of this red carpet, which has entranced scholars and collectors for decades. Garnering $33.8 million, the Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet was one of the 25 Middle Eastern and Asian carpets from Sotheby's June 2013 auction Important Carpets from the William A. Clark Collection.


The Most Expensive Persian Carpet in the World

Ancient Persian rug once owned by American billionaire breaks record, selling for $33.8m or $600k per square foot - in June 2013.

  • Went for THREE TIMES the previous record for a carpet sale
  • Exquisite handwoven carpet is more than 360 years old
  • Was bought by industrialist William Clark in Paris in early 1900s
  • Carpet was sold at Sotheby's to raise money for museum

A Persian rug from the early 17th century sold for $33.7 million in New York City at roughly $600,000 per square foot - size of approximately 8ft. 9in. by 6ft. 5in. (2.67 by 1.96m.)

Sotheby's auction house said Wednesday's price for the Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet was more than three times the previous auction record for a carpet.

The Sickle-Leaf Carpet sold to an anonymous telephone bidder.

The visual impact of the Clark sickle-leaf carpet is so potent that it has impressed carpet scholars for decades, beginning with its first publication, where the author writes, “ The Clark-Corcoran carpet is definitely the finest of the group, and is surely one of the outstanding examples of Persian carpet weaving,” Arthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, vol. VI, 1939, pp

Setting a New World Record for any Carpet at Auction Important Carpets from the William A. Clark Collection Sold by The Corcoran Gallery of Art to Benefit Future Acquisitions Total $43.8 Million -- White Glove Sale with Every Lot Selling Above Estimate -- NEW YORK, 5 June 2013 – Today’s sale of Important Carpets from the William A. Clark Collection Sold by the Corcoran Gallery of Art to Benefit Future Acquisitions brought an impressive total of $43,764,750, over four times the pre-sale high estimate of $9.6 million, making it the most successful carpet auction ever held.

The sale of 25 carpets was 100% sold, achieving “White Glove” status, and with every single lot achieving a price above its pre-sale high estimate. At least four bidders fought for over 10 minutes for the star lot, the important and revered 17th century Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet, which sold for an astounding price of $33,765,000 (est. $5/7 million), a new world auction record for any carpet by a significant margin. That price also establishes a new benchmark for any Islamic work of art at auction. “Selling the Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet for a record-breaking price of more than three times the previous auction record for a carpet has unquestionably been the highlight of my 30 year career. It is gratifying to see the strength of the market for carpets of this quality and rarity. As an auctioneer fielding multiple bids per lot from a global audience of private collectors, institutions and dealers, the experience was thrilling!” noted Mary Jo Otsea, Senior Consultant, Rugs & Carpets at Sotheby’s.