Antique Mughal Rug from Vanderbilt Sells for $7.6 Million Becoming 3rd Most Expensive Rug Ever Sold
Who was Cornelius Vanderbilt?
Cornelius Vanderbilt was an American business magnate and philanthropist who lived from 1794 to 1877. He was born into a modest family in Staten Island, New York, but through his entrepreneurial skills and shrewd investments, he became one of the wealthiest individuals in American history. Vanderbilt is best known for his dominance in the shipping and railroad industries during the 19th century.
Vanderbilt started his career in the steamboat business, where he rapidly expanded his operations and gained a reputation for providing reliable and efficient transportation. He later shifted his focus to the railroad industry, recognizing its potential for growth and profitability. Vanderbilt aggressively consolidated numerous small railroads into larger networks, most notably the New York Central Railroad, which stretched from New York City to Chicago.
His approach to business was ruthless and often involved fierce competition and strategic maneuvering. Vanderbilt was known for undercutting competitors’ prices, offering superior services, and driving smaller companies out of business. His success earned him the nickname “Commodore,” reflecting his earlier involvement in the steamboat industry.
Vanderbilt’s vast wealth and influence extended beyond railroads. He invested in various industries, including shipping, banking, and telegraphy. At the height of his career, he was one of the richest men in the world. Vanderbilt’s wealth allowed him to lead an extravagant lifestyle and amass significant properties, including the famous Breakers mansion in Newport, Rhode Island.
Despite his ruthless business practices, Vanderbilt also engaged in philanthropy. He donated substantial amounts of money to educational institutions, including Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, which was named in his honor.
Cornelius Vanderbilt played a pivotal role in shaping the modern transportation and business landscape of the United States. His business strategies and ruthless pursuit of success left an indelible mark on American industry, earning him a place among the titans of the Gilded Age.
The Cornelius Vanderbilt Mughal Rug
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 rug 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 Mughal carpet 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.
That fine antique 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.