Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet
Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet sold for over $33m (Sotheby's)

A 17th century carpet has sold for a world-record price of $33.7m (£28.6m) at a Sotheby's auction in New York.

The Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet sold to an anonymous bidder. The price paid was three times the previous record for a carpet sold at auction - a Persian carpet for $9.6m in London in 2010.

The carpet was sold by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC and was part of a collection given to the gallery in 1926 by William Clark, a US senator from Montana.

Sotheby's sale was part of the Important Carpets from the William A Clark Collection.

In total, the sale made $43,764,750 - over four times the pre-sale high estimate of $9.6 million. All 25 carpets sold for more than their pre-sale high estimates.

Sotheby's said: "At least four bidders fought for over 10 minutes for the star lot, the important and revered 17th century Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet, which sold for an astounding price of $33,765,000 (estimated at $5/7 million), a new world auction record for any carpet by a significant margin.

"That price also establishes a new benchmark for any Islamic work of art at auction."

Truly phenomenal

Another carpet that performed particularly well was an Isphahan carpet from Central Persia, which went for $4.6m, far surpassing its $1.2m estimate.

Commenting on the Sickle-Leaf carpet, Jan David Winitz, Oriental rug expert and founder of Claremont Rug Company, said: "I expected that the piece would draw strong bidding, but this price, which is more than three-and-a-half times higher than the highest previously paid for a rug, is truly phenomenal

"The Safavid 'Sickle Leaf' Persian rug from the collection of William Andrews Clark is well-documented in the Oriental rug literature.

"The auction comes at a time when art collectors are increasingly interested in the best-of-the-best historical Oriental rugs, which are almost entirely in museum collections and rarely come to market.

"I have no doubt that this sale is a precursor of a movement to come: the recognition that the best oriental rugs woven in the 16th through 19th centuries stand on par with the highest valued art works of other mediums."