Paul Allen’s art collection breaks auction record at $1.62 billion

The $1 billion mark was expected for the auction at Christie’s in New York of the art collection of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who died in 2018. It was largely exceeded with a record amount of 1.62 billion dollars (1.59 billion euros) at the end of two days of bidding, Wednesday 9 and Thursday, November 10, 2022.

The value of this collection shattered the previous record of the Macklowe collection, named after a wealthy New York couple, which had reached $ 922 million at the competitor Sotheby’s, in the spring. In a sign that the art market continues to grow at a brisk pace despite geopolitical and economic uncertainties, five works were acquired for more than 100 million dollars each. These are:

  • Les Poseuses ensemble. Petite version, by Georges Seurat, sold for $149.2 million;
  • La Montagne Sainte-Victoire, by Paul Cézanne ($137.7 million);
  • Orchard with Cypresses, by Vincent Van Gogh ($117.1 million);
  • Maternité II, by Paul Gauguin ($105.7 million);
  • Birch Forest by Gustav Klimt (€104.5 million).

This absolute record for an art auction was set on the first day, Wednesday 9, at more than 1.5 billion dollars, thanks in particular to these five paintings, as well as Waterloo Bridge, overcast weather by Claude Monet, which sold for 64.5 million dollars. On Thursday evening, the second part of the sale reached “only” 116 million dollars.

A most lucrative year 2022 for the art market

The collection of Paul G. Allen has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Christie’s art galleries around the world and has now made history by setting a record for the most expensive auction ever. In total, the collection included 155 masterpieces spanning five hundred years of art history, 100% of which were sold. According to Christie’s, 28% of the works by value were purchased Wednesday night by Asian clients.

The company controlled by French billionaire François Pinault’s holding company Artemis had announced that all proceeds from the sales would go to charity, in keeping with the wishes of the Microsoft co-founder, who died in 2018. Despite his falling out with Bill Gates, his partner in the birth of Microsoft in 1975, American billionaire Paul Allen signed his “giving pledge” in 2009, committing to donate the majority of his fortune.

With these sales and the sale of a portrait of Marilyn Monroe – Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, by Andy Warhol – which went for 195 million dollars in May, the year 2022 should remain one of the most lucrative in the history of the art market. Art as an investment still has a bright future ahead of it.

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