Antique Mughal Rug Sells for $7.6 Million Becoming 3rd Most Expensive Rug Ever Sold
A late seventeenth century Indian Mughal rug sold for an astonishing $7.6 million at a Christie’s auction on Tuesday, October 8, 2013. The exemplary piece – a rug of Mughal Indian origin – had once belonged to the renowned American industrialist Cornelius Vanderbilt II, who bequeathed the piece to his daughter upon his passing in 1899. When Vanderbilt himself originally purchased the piece in the latter half of the nineteenth century, there was an incredible demand for fine antique Oriental rugs, especially among the most prominent American families of the era. In addition to Vanderbilt, other influential American businessmen, such as J. P. Morgan, William A. Clark, and John D. Rockefeller, also acquired exemplary rugs from Persia, Turkey and India.
Vanderbilt himself was especially passionate about rare antique carpets, and purchased the Mughal piece that sold at Tuesday’s auction to decorate his personal New York City mansion, displaying the piece on the wall of his “Moorish Smoking Room” in his home at 1 West 57th Street. So attached was Vanderbilt to this piece that, when he began spending more time at The Breakers – Vanderbilt’s Newport, Rhode Island mansion – he had the piece moved there to be hung in his master bedroom. The rug was passed on to Vanderbilt’s daughter in 1899, who kept it until 1977. Thus, this remarkable rug remained in the possession of the Vanderbilt family for nearly a century – a large part of the reason that it remains in such impeccable condition.
The huge price tag fetched for this gorgeous, historical piece represents the third highest price ever paid for an antique rug at auction. Recently, the rug world has watched with great excitement as the finest pieces have garnered increasingly larger price tags at auctions around the world. In June, an antique Persian carpet sold for an astonishing (and record setting) $34 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York City. That fine antique Oriental rugs are demanding such lavish prices at the best auctions is certainly an exciting and intriguing development, perhaps indicative of a growing appreciation for the inherent artistic value of these wonderful works.