William Robinson on the rostrum at Christie’s for the final time.

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His final auction as gavel master at the firm was the Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Oriental Rugs and Carpets on March 31. It was 94% sold by value and 75% sold by lot.

Highlights included a Polonaise carpet probably made in Isfahan, central Persia, c.1600, sold at a hammer price of £1.9m (£2.3m including premium), and folio number 451 from the Shah Tahmasp Shahnama commissioned by Shah Isma’il, c.1522, which was hammered down at £4m (£4.84m including premium) against an estimate of £2.5m-4m.

Buoyant atmosphere

Louise Broadhurst, head of department, rugs and carpets at Christie’s, said: “The atmosphere in the saleroom was buoyant and eager to see William Robinson take to the rostrum for the final time in his illustrious 40-year career at Christie’s.”

Robinson joined Christie’s in January 1982 and had been an auctioneer for the past 20 years, describing his last time on the rostrum as “bittersweet”.

His most memorable sales of his career include selling a record-breaking 11th-12th century Moorish Spain bronze lion that had been stored in a warehouse in Battersea before the sale where it was hammered down at £2.2m in 1993 (front page, ATG No 1110), the Bernheimer Carpet Collection in 1996 and the Maharajas and Mughal Magnificence sale in June 2019.

Robinson will now work as a consultant to Christie’s as well as to other institutions. His focus also turns to writing – he has a catalogue of Islamic metalwork that he is part way through producing. But his retirement will give him more time to travel, read, sail, sing and relax.