background on last week's record breaking Sotheby's auction
Detail of the ‘Sickle Leaf’ carpet from the WAC Collection Auction
Last Wednesday Sotheby’s held its auction of the William A. Clark collection of 25 important carpets, which netted an astonishing $43,764,750. The crown jewel of the sale was a Safavid Empire ‘Sickle Leaf’ carpet from the first half of the 17th century which features an elaborate floral-on-red design with plum blossoms, vines, cypress trees, dramatic sickle leaves, and a detailed dark border. The remarkable carpet has been written about by scholars and exhibited at the Sackler Gallery in the Smithsonian as well as overseas.
It brought a winning bid of $33,765,000 (or approximately $600,000 per square foot) which is an auction record for any carpet by a significant margin. The sale price was more than 4 times the auction estimate, and established a new benchmark for any Islamic work of art at auction.
Almost immediately after seeing the blog post from my friends at Doris Leslie Blau chronicling the sale I decided to investigate the back-story of the collection, and to consider the larger implications for the interior design industry.