The Paul G. Allen Collection, auctioned last night at Christie’s, has become the biggest sale in auction history, achieving a total of $1,506,386,000. The result set a record for a single-owner sale, pushing into second place Sotheby’s $676.1m Macklowe collection evening sale in November 2021.
The 9 November sale in New York of the collection of the visionary Microsoft founder Paul G. Allen, who died in 2018, surpassed the $1 billion mark at the 32nd lot and broke records across categories.
The evening saw 60 benchmark works sold, establishing the Allen collection as the most valuable private collection in history. Five paintings achieved prices above $100 million. The works in the sale sold 100 per cent by lot, with 65 per cent of the lots selling above their high estimates. Pursuant to Mr Allen’s wishes, the estate will dedicate all proceeds from the landmark series of sales to philanthropy. All of the lots came to market backed by financial guarantees.
The NY Times reported, “Where a price of $100 million used to signify entry to a rarefied club of auction record holders, the salesroom scarcely applauded as five lots exceeded that mark. The evening sale created 20 artist records, including Van Gogh and Jasper Johns. Georges Seurat’s small canvas Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version) (1888), which sold for $149.2 million. Van Gogh’s landscape, Verger avec cyprès (1888), which sold for $117.2 million; Paul Cézanne’s 1888-90 Cubism precursor “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire” ($138 million); van Gogh’s verdant scene of Arles, “Verger avec cyprès” ($117 million); and Gustav Klimt’s 1903 autumnal “Birch Forest” ($105 million). The Klimt sale broke the previous high for the artist at auction: $88 million for “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II” in 2006, the same year Allen bought his Klimt for about $40 million.” Lucian Freud’s impressive Interior, W11 (after Watteau) (1981–83), sold for $86.3 million. Paul Gauguin’s Maternite II (1899)sold for $105.7 million. Georgia O’Keeffe’s White Rose with Larkspur No.1 (1927) sold for $23m ($26.7m.
One hundred fifty lots at Christie’s sale spanning 500 years, from the Renaissance to contemporary art was on offer. Christie’s second sale from the Allen collection features 95 lots starts at 10 am Thursday (10 November) in New York.
All proceeds will go to the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to support philanthropy “pursuant to Mr. Allen’s wishes”.
Top Photo: Georges Seurat’s Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version) (1888), which fetched $149.2m, at Christie’s evening auction of works from the collection of Paul Allen in New York Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022