$12m Persian Shahnameh manuscript smashes Islamic art record

A 500-year-old illustrated page from a Persian manuscript has more than doubled its £3m estimate to become the most expensive item of Islamic art ever sold at auction.

The 47.2 by 32 cm page is one of 258 that once formed the Shahnameh manuscript, also known as the Book of Kings.

It made £7.4m at Sotheby's sale in London, delighting Edward Gibbs of the auction house's Middle East department.

"The sale of the Shahnameh leaf today represented a rare opportunity for collectors and connoisseurs of Islamic art," he said.

"Bidders from across the globe competed tenaciously to acquire this unique work of extraordinary quality and beauty."

The intricate Persian artwork more than doubled its estimate

The manuscript was produced by leading artist of his day Aqa Mirak between 1525 and 1540 for Shah Tahmasp. It relates the history of Iran from prehistoric times to the 7th century AD.

The page features ink, opaque watercolour and gold on paper and is the first such piece to come to auction since 2005.

The sale is further evidence of the growing popularity for Persian art with investors, assisted in part by the former Shah of Iran Mohammad Pahlavi's notable collection in the 1970s.


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