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Woman sold carpet worth millions for €20,000

The Local · 8 Dec 2011, 08:58

Published: 08 Dec 2011 08:58 GMT+01:00

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The Persian “vase” carpet became the most valuable in the world after British auctioneers Christie’s sold it for €7.2 million last year.

The Hamburg dealer who bought it in the German auction and realised it was something special made his fortune.

This left the woman furious that she had missed out on so much money and she sued the auction house in Augsburg which had first sold the carpet, claiming €350,000 in compensation.

She told the Augsburg court on Wednesday she had felt overwhelmed when Georg Rehm came to the flat she was moving out of, and removed a number of items to sell for her. Yet she spoke of friendly conversation and cups of coffee, Die Welt newspaper reported.

The first records of the carpet say it was bought by the Countess Martine Marie-Pol of Béhague, an important French art patron. She left it to her nephew the Marquis of Garney and it stayed in the family for decades until 1987 when the German dealer bought it in an auction. He obviously did not realise what he had, and gave it to his housekeeper.

This housekeeper had left it in her will to her friend – who had kept it in storage for years.

“It was so big, so long, it didn’t fit into my flat,” she said of the carpet which is more than three metres long and one-and-a-half wide.

She decided to move house after her husband died, and wanted to sell off some stuff via the auctioneer. He said as a general dealer he was no expert in carpets and put it in his catalogue without a picture, with an estimate price of €900.

Story continues below…

“Had I known what it was, I would have rejected it,” he told the court. His lawyer said he generally dealt with house-hold items and had never heard of the “Survey of Persian Art” by Arthur Upham Pope, a standard reference book for collectors in which the carpet was pictured.

A suggestion from the judge as the court case started, that the auctioneer pay the woman €80,000, was rejected by his lawyers, saying it would leave him bankrupt. His offer of half that was not enough to satisfy the woman, so the case will now be heard in full, with a verdict due towards the end of January.

DPA/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:49 December 8, 2011 by catjones
I'm going to sue my broker for letting me sell my stocks below market price. I didn't realize they were worth more.
10:21 December 8, 2011 by snaark
She should also sue her doctor for not telling her that she's stupid.
10:37 December 8, 2011 by freechoice
there is no way i am going to pay even hundred bucks for this flea infested old rag.
12:13 December 8, 2011 by gorongoza
I am in possession of almost a similar carpet ; could be worth millions !
15:45 December 8, 2011 by Nazmiyal
Auction prices are never a good indication for value... what if the rug would have passed at the second auction - would the buyer sue the first auction house for selling it to him for too much money?


00:24 December 9, 2011 by jusplayinwhitcha
with the internet almost everywhere you turn, and the ease of access to it, why wouldn't she do a little research before selling it? you hear stories all the time about artifacts being purchased at yard sales later to be found to be priceless. Should all of those sellers sue the purchasers? I think not. a little research can go a long way!
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