Orientalist & Middle East Week totals £15 million at Sotheby’s London

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A 'Star' Oushak carpet, West Anatolia, 16th/17th century. Estimate: £10,000 - 15,000. Sold for: £87,500 ($122,710). Courtesy Sotheby’s.

As part of Sotheby’s Orientalist and Middle Eastern Art Week, a group of four sales dedicated to art produced across the Islamic world from ancient to modern times, 280 lots sold to bring £14,998,938 / $20,934,439 (est. £10,402,300-14,893,000) – an increase of 18% from the equivalent season in 2017.

Comprising a treasure trove of exceptional collector and decorator pieces spanning Persia, India, Central Asia, Anatolia, Turkey and Europe, Sotheby’s sale of exquisite Rugs & Carpets totalled £1,553,063 / $2,178,016 (est. £1,354,300-1,881,000).

The auction was led by the largest Toussounian silk carpet ever to appear at auction, which soared above estimate to £393,000 / $551,143 (est. £200,000-300,000) – setting a world record for any 20th century carpet at auction. The design elements of this ‘Emperor’ silk carpet take from one of the most complex and sophisticated groups of classical carpets of the early Safavid period in the 16th century, adorned with colourful palmettes, cloud-bands, mythical animals and delicate layers of spiralling vines.

Following a successful auction in November, the second group of rare and early weavings from the renowned collection of the celebrated architect and author Christopher Alexander performed well – led by a West Anatolian rug fragment, thought to be from the Gördes region, at £81,250 / $113,945 (est. £8,000-12,000).

The sale saw also strong competition for a strikingly fragmented Karapinar carpet, crafted in the second half of the 16th century in Central Anatolia, which more than doubled its estimate to bring £131,250 / $184,065 (est. £40,000-60,000).

“The results acknowledge the wisdom of those connoisseurs world-wide who have been building major private collections of museum-level and high-collectible antique rugs. The market for rare antique Oriental rugs continues to be a bright light in the world of investment in precious tangible assets, as owners also yield the great pleasure of living with entirely one-in-the-world work of art.” -Jan David Winitz, president/founder of Claremont Rug Company.

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