No, your carpet is not worth $30,000,000. No, your carpet is not worth $3,000,000. And no, your carpet is almost certainly not worth $300,000. $30,000 might be more like it. The antique carpet trade was hoping, quite irrationally, that the sale of the Clark Collection of Important Carpets, at Sotheby’s, New York on the 5th of June, 2013, with its star performer the Sickle Leaf Carpet, Kirman, c. 1600 from the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C., would focus attention on oriental carpets as a significant art form, with prices to match…
What happened was that a masterpiece was sold, along with a number of other truly extraordinary pieces. The lead piece was one of the most famous, most acclaimed, most published carpets (on any piece of Islamic art) in the world. Your rug is not any of the above. There is no rising tide, just a once-in-a-lifetime one off storm surge and so your boat is not getting a lift.
A rising tide, if it exists, is solely confined to the relative handful of ultra rare classic period carpets of Persia, India, and Turkey in impeccable condition with spectacular colors and superb technique. To this elite grouping may be added a handful of collector pieces, for example the 18th century Salor Ergsi sold at Grogan’s recently for about $250,000. You don’t have one of these either. The sale of a late 17th century Mughal Pashmina Carpet for about $8,000,000 is another example. This carpet is published, famous, has a serious auction history, and like the Clark piece, a solid gold Gilded Age prominence (ex- Vanderbilt NYC). Both Clark and Vanderbilt carpets are going to the Islamic Art Museum in Doha, Qatar. Your carpet will not be going there, ever.
The carpets presently in the trade are governed by wholly different criteria, even the general run of collectible ones. For decorative carpets, remember that they form part of larger ensembles, and are never the drivers of them. We will discuss design trade in our next blog, but remember that floors have gotten barer and less important overall in the last few decades, and a high ticket sale of the rarest of the rare is irrelevant to that trend. Such pieces are in a parallel universe to those which might be considered by a designer today.
Watch this site for our next commentary on the state of the rug world, coming up before you know it!