It should be no surprise that many celebrities and other public figures, including the odd fictional character, are united by a love of the beautiful carpets of ancient Persia and modern day Iran, as well as similar creations from Turkey and the orient.
Everyone’s heard of Kanye West’s travails when trying to render his home ‘real Kingish’ in 2010 – they gave rise to one of the most chuckled-over tweets of the decade: “I specifically ordered Persian rugs with cherub imagery!!! What do I have to do to get a simple Persian rug with cherub imagery uuuuugh.” Actually we can sympathise – authentic Persian carpets come in over four thousand different types, illustrating abundant themes including religion and love, while modern versions take in a cosmopolitan range of subjects. Cherubs don’t seem that much to ask.
Ben Affleck faced a different challenge when he picked up a £1,600 antique rug in Istanbul while filming Argo in 2012. The star was seduced by the beautiful piece while browsing at a bazaar, but when he got it home, wife Jennifer Garner pointed out the area rug for the living room had already been ordered, so it ended up as a bath mat. Not the best way to care for a valuable artwork, but they are made to be walked on.
The most famous Persian rug in cinema (and a feature of one of our earlier posts), of course, belongs to the character played by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski, whose beloved possession suffers an even worse indignity before leading him into a morass of mistaken identity and extortion.
While all three undoubtedly love their oriental rugs, there are also some well-known figures better described as connoisseurs. The private collection of Sigmund Freud was one of the finest in Europe, and the pieces adorning his consulting room included a Persian Qashqai draped on the patient’s couch. You can still see his treasures at the Freud Museum in London.
Other famous serious collectors include iconic bond girl Ursula Andress, who told Southeastern Antiquing and Collecting Magazine of her passion, and Henry Kissinger, whose hobby is documented in Kissinger: A Biography by Walter Isaacson.