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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's art exceeds $1.5 billion at auction

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s art exceeds $1.5 billion at auction

Art manipulators hold a painting titled ‘La montagne Sainte-Victoire’ by Paul Cezanne (estimate on request: over $120,000,000) during a photo call to present highlights from the estate of the philanthropist and co- Microsoft founder Paul G. Allen in London on October 14, 2022.

Wiktor Szymanowicz | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Christie’s sold 60 works from the Paul G. Allen collection for more than $1.5 billion on Wednesday night, as wealthy collectors around the world shrugged off economic and crypto worries to invest in trophy artworks.

Five paintings crossed the $100 million mark, including the night’s bestseller, “Les Poseuses, Ensemble” by Georges Seurat, which sold for $149.2 million. Several works have sold for three or four times their estimates, with several artists setting new records at auction, including Vincent van Gogh, Edward Steichen and Gustav Klimt.

The $1.506 billion sales total shattered the previous record for the most expensive collection ever to be auctioned, set by the Harry and Linda Macklowe Collection auctioned at Sotheby’s for $922 million. The sales total for the Allen collection will climb even higher on Thursday morning, when another 95 lots will go up for auction.

The wave of eight- and nine-figure sales suggested that the world’s wealthy still view the art of masterpieces as a hedge against inflation and perhaps a safer store of value than stocks and stocks. increasingly volatile cryptocurrencies. The selloff came the same day the Dow fell more than 600 points and bitcoin plunged to its lowest levels since November 2020.

The collection of Paul Allen, the late co-founder of Microsoft, was a treasure trove of masterpieces spanning 500 years. All proceeds will go to charity, as Allen signed the Giving Pledge promising to leave at least half of his fortune to charity.

Allen’s keen eye for great art also made great investments. He bought Gustav Klimt’s “Birch Forest” for $40 million in 2006, and sold it Wednesday for $104 million.

Paul Cezanne’s “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire” is auctioned from Paul Allen’s collection at Christie’s in New York on Nov. 9, 2022.

Robert Frank | CNBC

Paul Cezanne’s “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire” sold for $137.8 million. Vincent van Gogh’s “Orchard with Cypres,” sold for $117 million and set a new record for van Gogh at auction, last set in 1990. Paul Gaugin’s “Maternite II” sold for $105.7 million.

“Large Interior, W11 (after Watteau)” by Lucian Freud, considered one of his greatest masterpieces, sold for $86.3 million. One of Claude Monet’s “Waterloo Bridge” paintings has gone for $64.5 million.

Bidding was strong around the world, with Christie’s specialists bidding over the phone on behalf of clients in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Several works have sold for multiples of their estimates. A famous Edward Steichen photo of the Flatiron building in New York sold for $11.8 million, making it the second most expensive photograph ever sold and smashing the $2-3 million estimate.

An Andrew Wyeth painting called ‘Day Dream’ has been the subject of a heated bidding war, selling for $23.3 million, well above its estimate of $2-3 million . Despite collectors’ current obsession with contemporary art, several of Allen’s old masters have reached eight figures. A work by Botticelli entitled “Madonna of the Magnificat” was sold for 48 million dollars.

Visitors look at a painting entitled “Virgin of the Magnificat” by Alessandro Filipepi, known as Sandro Botticelli (estimate on request: more than $40,000,000) during a photocall to present the highlights of the estate of the philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, Paul G. Allen in London on October 14, 2022.

Wiktor Szymanowicz | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

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