Is Sotheby’s Selling Rugs Again?

Rugs in a Bokara warehouse. The largest source of Viyet’s rugs

Sotheby’s recently  bought a company called Viyet, which is selling rugs Direct to Designers (D2D). We looked at the press release; we looked at the website, and we discovered the unannounced decision for Sotheby’s to go back into the rug business.

I looked at the rugs on Viyet’s website. Initially they had about 150 rugs listed from 11 sources. The next day they had over 1,000 rugs listed including many more sources, and then as i was preparing for this newsletter and checking my number the Viyet website was back to showing about 150 rugs.

I think I caught the website just at the right moment to see that they have a lot more rugs ready to sell than they were planning to show. To me, this means that they are a bigger operation than 150 rugs might indicate, and offers a hint of Sotheby’s plans. As of my last review of the Viyet website it had 11 manufacturers / sources of the rugs on their website, with the most from Bokhara and Aga John. Rugs currently available from Viyet by source: ABC -2, Aga John-25, Arhaus-1, Bokara-93, Custom-1, Cyrus-1, Gary Cruz-13, Modern-1, Shine by Pasagrad-11, Stark-1, Vintage-3.

The real point is that Sotheby’s, who was effectively out of the rug business, is going back into it. And make no mistake, the Sotheby’s name is one of the best brand names in the market. While Amazon and Wayfair are engaged in a high volume race to the bottom in pricing on the Internet, Sotheby’s has stepped into a neglected and complex marketing niche serving designers on a national basis.


“Seating, side tables and dining tables have always been our most popular categories” according to Viyet CEO Elizabeth Brown.

There are plenty of unsold one of a kind rugs available in the market so they are unlikely to run out of potential inventory to evaluate and present any time soon.

As an aside, On a recent visit to Marjan, another larger wholesaler nationally, they said that in the market they are selling three containers to replace one container of high knot count Persian design rugs from Pakistan.

My tea leaves tell me that hand knotted price points have moved into the middle market. This  will be impacted by Sotheby’s purchase. The mix and the type of product carried at national retail outlets is changing with the prices point shift.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, we misspelled Bokara’s name.  We apologize