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June 3rd, 2008. Christies Lot 37, sale 2006: Record Breaking Silk Isfahan sells for $4.45 Million

Number 1 of Most Expensive Rugs 2008


Christie's New York.  June 3rd, 2008 Lot 37 Sale 2006. 

A silk isfahan rug
Central Persia, Circa 1600
Approximately 7 ft. 7 in. x 5 ft. 7 in. (231 cm. x 170 cm.)

SOLD: WORLD RECORD Realized Value $4,450,500 

Back to TOP TEN Rugs and Carpets of 2008

Certainly this realized value is the highest price ever paid at auction (both per square foot and overall), but also perhaps the highest price ever paid even among private sale.  The rug was last sold in 1990 to tobacco heiress doris duke who then left the rug to the Newport Restoration Foundation after her death.  Originally the rug was categorized as a Silk kashan, but has since been re-evaluated as being what would more appropriately considered an Isfahan dating to the early 1600's: A Silk Safavid Carpet. The rug was reportedly sold to an anonymous buyer, a resident in Long Island, N.Y.






























17th Century Silk Isfahan

17th Century Silk Isfahan


Pre-Lot Text


Approximately 875 kpsi



Press Release from Christies on this Spectacular Rug:


“No more exquisite harmony was ever realized in any Persian Rug.”
- Aurthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art
Rugs and Carpets
June 3, 2008
New York – Christie’s New York is pleased to announce its Spring 2008 auction of Rugs and Carpets
on June 3. The sale will be led by a gorgeous silk Isfahan rug from Central Persia, circa 1600, from
The Doris Duke Collection and the Newport Restoration Foundation (estimate: $1,000,000-
1,500,000). Also on offer will be ten more rugs and carpets from The Doris Duke Collection with
estimates ranging from $3,000 to $180,000. The proceeds of the sale will benefit the Collections and
Conservation Fund of the Newport Restoration Foundation. The sale is expected to realize in
excess of $2 million.
The Rug
Woven in Isfahan during the reign of Shah Abbas I (1587-1629), the rug measures approximately 7’
7” x 5’ 7” inches. Its brilliant quality is established through the subtle use of fourteen shades of
color - an important contrast from the eight to ten shades that is typical of fine oriental rugs. The
light hues are complemented by the sapphire blue, scarlet and green areas that radiate throughout
the rug.
Adding to the tonal effect is the formal composition of the rug. The overall motif is achieved
through a system of scrolling floral vinery and arabesques, each with its own personality and
destination. The central walnut medallion and triple border frame the energy that exudes from the
lively field. Isfahan and similar, but later, “Polonaise” rugs were frequently given as diplomatic gifts
to heads of state by the Safavid Shahs of the late 16th and 17th century. The present rug, however, is
far finer and more exquisitely drawn than almost all “Polonaise” rugs.
Grace Rainey-Rogers was one of a number of discerning American collectors of Islamic Art in the
earlier 20th century. She lent a number of items to the groundbreaking Exhibition of Persian Art
held at the Royal Academy in London in 1931 under the patronage of HIM the Shah of Iran. The
curator of that exhibition, Arthur Upham Pope, as a result of its success, published his six-volume
magnum opus A Survey of Persian Art in 1938 in which this rug is one of the very few reproduced in
color. In his description of it, describing in particular the color, he includes the sentence, “No more
exquisite harmony was ever realized in any Persian Rug.” Over the last century, this rug has been
regarded as one of the most impressive creations of Safavid Persian looms. Since Grace Rainey
Rogers, it has continued to have an illustrious provenance, passing to Hagop Kevorkian in 1943 and
then to Doris Duke in 1990.
Doris Duke and The Newport Restoration Foundation
Doris Duke (1912-1993) was an American heiress and philanthropist. An extraordinary woman
living in an extraordinary era, Doris Duke’s life reflected her exquisite taste, limitless passion and
total commitment in all its aspects. No area of interest was unexplored. The fascinating field of
Oriental and Islamic Art was no exception and her collection of rugs and carpets shows an
extremely knowledgeable and dedicated approach.
Doris Duke spent her childhood at Rough Point in Newport, Rhode Island. She created the
Newport Restoration Foundation in 1968 with the goal of preserving many historic properties. The
Newport Restoration Foundation, a non-profit institution, was formed with the express purpose of

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