NEW YORK - The stunned crowd at Sotheby's burst into a rare round of applause when a museum-quality Persian carpet sold for a record-setting $33.76 million in June.
"It was extraordinary and wonderful and the carpet deserved it," said the auctioneer, Mary Jo Otsea, Sotheby's senior consultant for rugs and carpets.
The hand-knotted, 17th century Clark Sickle-Leaf carpet, with a red ground and dark blue border, is "still dazzling to the eye," she said.
While few of us can fathom spending so much money on a showpiece, Oriental carpets, made in countries from Turkey to China, are available at various prices and have long been a popular part of home decor.
"Older carpets look great with everything," Otsea said. "They add great warmth by their color and design. Older carpets have a wonderful patina and character that you can't capture in a new piece. Each one is different. You're not going to see the same thing when you go into everyone's house."
Doris Athineos, the arts and antiques editor for Traditional Home magazine, said the sale of the Clark Sickle-Leaf carpet may inspire people to look at the carpets with a new eye, mindful that an eight-figure sum was just shelled out for one of the finest examples.
"It gives them confidence to pull the trigger on something they may be eying, and confidence if they've inherited them from a great aunt or have them rolled up and stored. They might think, 'Hey maybe I should put that out,"' Athineos said.
Whether antiques or reproductions, the carpets work well in any kind of house or with any kind of decor, she said.
"I can't imagine where a beautiful antique carpet wouldn't work," Athineos said. "I have seen them in every kind of home from minimalist to maximalist, where there's lot of decoration in the house. They add warmth to very pristine, minimalist spaces."
Try one in any room except the kitchen, Athineos recommends, especially the space where people spend the most time, perhaps the media room.
"That's the kind of wear those carpets can take," she said. "They're meant to be walked on."
With so many styles of design - florals, geometrics, abstracts - Otsea recommends browsing through as many carpets as possible to find out what you like. A great carpet, she said, is the right combination of color, design, technique and tradition.
"The more you look, the more you realize what you like," she said. "There's a whole world of patterns to choose from and color palettes as well."
This publicity photo provided by courtesy of Traditional Homes magazine shows a smaller Turkish Ushak carpet, circa 1920s, layered on top of a larger sisal carpet, in a room designed by Lillian August. Doris Athineos, the arts and antiques editor for Traditional Home magazine, said whether antiques or reproductions, the carpets work well in any kind of house or with any kind of decor. ìUshaks ground a room,î she said. (AP Photo/Courtesy Traditional Home, Emily Followill)×
This publicity photo provided by courtesy of Traditional Home magazine shows a tree-of-life design on a Turkish Ushak, circa 1920s, in a room designed by Robert Brown. Vintage versions of this size retail for about $6000 while new editions are available for about $3000. Doris Athineos, the arts and antiques editor for Traditional Home magazine, said ìI canít imagine where a beautiful antique carpet wouldnít work. I have seen them in every kind of home from minimalist to maximalist, where thereís lot of decoration in the house.î (AP Photo/Courtesy Traditional Home, Colleen Duffley)×
A 17th century Clark Sickle-Leaf carpet, probably from Kirman, South Persia, was sold by the Corcoran Gallery of Art to an anonymous buyer.×