Exquisite handwoven carpet is more than 360 years old
- Was bought by industrialist William Clark in Paris in early 1900s
- Carpet is being sold at Sotheby's to raise money for museum
When it comes to home furnishings there aren't many things more stylish than an authentic Persian rug but savvy shoppers won't be able to pick up this magic carpet in a holiday bazaar.
The ancient rug, which dates back to the 1650s is estimated to sell for an incredible £5m when it goes on sale at auction this summer.
The exquisite handwoven carpet is more than 360 years old and measures 8ft 9ins by 6ft 5ins, and the pre-sale estimate from the auction house means it works out as a a hefty £92,592 per square foot.
The intricately woven rug of red, blue and green colours was owned by an American billionaire industrialist who bought it in the early 1900s, and the artifact was donated to a museum after his death in 1925.
Since then the carpet, decorated with an asymmetrical pattern of sickle-shaped leaves, has been regularly displayed at the Corcoran Museum in the US capital, Washington DC.
However, the museum has now decided to sell the rug to raise funds and its auction later this year is generating huge excitement among antique carpet collectors across the world.
Despite its age, the rug is said to be in exceptional condition, suggesting it had been hung for many years rather than being laid on a floor.
Mary Jo Otsea, a senior consultant of rugs and carpets at auctioneers Sotheby's, said: 'This is a beautiful example of carpet weaving.
'In my 30 year career, this is the most exciting and important collection that I have dealt with.
'The Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet is without question one of the most iconic and important carpets ever to appear at auction.
'It was made during the Safavid dynasty in Persia in the 1650s and made by several weavers at a very sophisticated workshop in south east Persia.
'It would have been for a noble person as it would have been very expensive to make.
'William Clark, a billionaire industrialist who also became a senator, purchased it from a dealer in Paris while on a tour of Europe in the early 1900s.
'He must have hung it because it is in very good condition and is unlikely to have spent much time on the floor.
'He bequeathed his collection of carpets to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1925 and it is being sold by them for future acquisitions.
'Carpets of this calibre don't come up that often.'
The rug has a wool pile and the foundation is made of cotton and silk.
It is being sold by Sotheby's in New York in June.