World's Most Expensive Rug

March 2009

What's at the very top end of the rug world ? Well, a treasured historical rug has just sold at Sotheby's in Doha, Qatar, for $5.5 million - though this was in fact below rumoured prices that suggest it might fetch up to $20 million (or around £14 million)!

This makes the fabled Pearl Carpet of Baroda the most expensive rug ever sold. Tradition has it that the rug was made in the Eighteenth Century for the Maharaja of Baroda in India as a gift for the tomb of the prophet Mohammed in Media, Saudi Arabia. However, the Maharaja died before the rug was completed, and it has remained within this familty since. The rug gets its name from the use of some 2 million natural seed pearls farmed from across the Gulf. It is also encrusted throughout with diamonds and other precious stones set in gold, including a central motif of three diamond embossed rosettes.

The March 2009 sale in Doha was the first time it had been brought to auction. The final price of $5.5 million was below estimates as fewer bidders than expected appeared. The successful bidder remains anonymous, but the price paid easily passed the previous record of $4.45 paid for a Persian rug at Christie's in New York in 2008.

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