On October 8, 2013. Christie’s London sold an an antique Moghul carpet that once bestowed the halls of two of America’s most opulent addresses – 1 West 57th Street in New York City and the Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island. Both buildings commissioned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, president of the New York Central Railroad.
At 12.9 feet by 13.6 feet and made in the early 18th century in northern India – the Pashmina wool carpet features an intense scarlet field detailed with a golden latticework design of interlocking 12-point stars enclosing symmetrical arrays of flowers of pink, yellow, white, and blue jasmine and lotus blossoms.
Christie’s expected it to bring between £1,500,000 and £2,000,000. To us mere mortals a massive sum but given past auction successes of similar quality carpets of this age and the carpets past sale history, a relatively conservative estimate. In 1989 the carpet was sold at a German auction house for $718,700, then a world record for any carpet. It was sold by Christie’s before, in 1995, $992,500, again a world record for any Oriental carpet.
The carpet is one of only 12 known Millefleur (French for “thousand flower”) rugs from its period, one so superb that scholars have called it “a masterpiece” and “the most sublime of all decorative carpets.” At 300 years old there is only light wear for a rug of its age.
On the day of the auction two main bidders fought it out to buy the carpet, smashing the estimate (although not reaching the heights of some of the Persian rugs that have broke records in recent years) and selling at £4,786,500.
Click here to view Little-Persia’s Antique Persian and Oriental Rugs.