A Page from ‘Book of Kings’ sold at Sotheby’s for a remarkable £8.1 million.

A Page from ‘Book of Kings’ sold at Sotheby's for a remarkable £8.1 million.

On Wednesday, a rare folio sold at a Sotheby’s auction in London broke the previous record for the most expensive piece of Islamic art ever sold by the auction company.

It is another piece from the same manuscript’s collection, a rare page from “The Book of Kings,” which broke the previous record of the sale.

A page from Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp, popularly known as The Book of Kings, was sold at auction for a remarkable £8.1 million ($9.4 million) after more than 10 minutes of bidding.

The artwork, which was on display at Sotheby’s Dubai early this month, now holds the record for the most expensive Islamic work of art ever sold at auction, breaking the mark previously held by a page from the same text that sold at Sotheby’s in 2011 for £7,433,250.

Benedict Carter, head of the department, of Sotheby’s Islamic & Indian Art said: “The Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp is universally acknowledged as one of the supreme illustrated manuscripts of any period or culture and ranks among the greatest works of art in the world.”

“It is a testament to the sheer artistic skill, patronage, and beauty that two folios from the same legendary manuscript now hold the top two highest prices for any Islamic work on paper, with a new auction record set.”


The Shahnameh, an epic poem by the renowned poet Ferdowsi that chronicles the history of Persia’s kings and queens, was written between 977 and 1010. The monarch Shah Ismail wanted to illustrate it; therefore, he ordered the ‘Book of Kings’. The royal atelier’s artisans worked on the text for more than twenty years.

The page is credited to Mirza Ali, a member of the manuscript’s second generation of artists and the son of Sultan Muhammad, one of the most notable Persian painters of the period who also contributed to it.

The artwork shows one of the many tales about the fabled hero Rustam, who is shown getting ready to find his missing horse, Rakhsh, who has joined a herd of wild horses while wearing a tiger vestment and a leopard helmet with a large plume. The page, which displays the pinnacle of Iranian artistic work and is brimming with astounding detail and color, is a remarkable marvel of inventive and technical mastery.

As a part of Sotheby’s Islamic, South Asian, and Middle Eastern Week, The Arts of The Islamic World & India lot, which sold for a total of £13,922,327 today at their London location, including The Book of Kings.

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