Following a New York auction late last year, Christie International PLC’s staff reached out to the U.S. Treasury Department for permission to ship Iranian goods to overseas buyers. Strict U.S. sanctions on Iran, intended to punish the Islamic Republic for its nuclear program, mean tight controls even for sales of Iranian antiquities–in this case, Persian carpets. The sale of these antiquities was unlikely to benefit Iran’s economy. They may have been out of the country for two centuries, said a compliance counsel at Christie’s. Yet the auction house would still need a license before shipping the carpet to a winning bidder in the United Kingdom or Australia.