Home Magazine Paul G. Allen’s Private Collection Auctioned at Record-Breaking Amount of US$ 1.6 billion

On November 9th, Christie’s hosted the record-breaking auction “Visionary”; a treasure trove collection owned by Bill Gate’s right-hand man, also known as Microsoft co-founder, Paul G. Allen.

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Paul G. Allen’s collection generated a rare level of excitement in the often-world-weary art environment. Among the usual appearances, across the room were the most influential art dealers such as David Zwirner, Larry Gagosian, and Amalia Dayan as well as Christie’s owner François Pinault.

The collection trumped US$ 676.1mn Macklowe collection which took place last November and reached a total of US$ 676.1mn as it set records for twenty artists’ auctions as well as five works smashing the US$ 100mn mark.

All pieces, chosen personally by Allen, were sold during the two-day auction on Wednesday and Thursday. The artworks, hung discretely in singular walls, belonged to a 500-year time span comprising bridging from the renaissance to the cutting edge of contemporary art comprising artists like Vincent van Gogh, Gaugin and Klimt.

Christie’s sold 150 works from the collection with bids coming from 19 different countries. The historic evening sold works at four times their estimates. Between these works were Georges Seurat’s “Les Poseuses, Ensemble,” which sold for a total of US$ 149.2 mn as well as La Montagne Sainte-Victoire (1888 - 1890) by Paul Cézanne, that sold at US$ 120mn and set the auction highest bid for the French Post-Impressionist, with more than a twofold increase of the previous one in 1999.

George Seurat. Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version), 1859 -1891. Courtesy of Christie's

At lot 32, when the art market made history and the auction knocked the US$ 100mn mark with Giacometti’s standing nude “Femme de Venise III”, that sold for US$ 25mn on a US$ 15mn estimate, the auctioneer remained silent leaving the room unaware of the development that was made.

Another landkmark was through Paul Gauguin’s unique Maternité II, painted in Tahiti in 1899, sold for US$ 105,7mn, doubling the artist’s previous records – again. Two women side a kneeling mother as she nurses her baby in an Eden-like setting. Through excessive colour and brushwork, Gauguin proposes a such-like theme in art history: the Madonna with her child.

Paul Gaugin. Maternitè II, 1848, 1903. Courtesy of Christie's.

What did the dealers say?

Michael Altman reported that the evening was a “tremendous success” and that “we’ll never see paintings that good by those respective artists ever again.” While dealer Dominique Lévy said. “A sale like this does not reflect the art market at large, but the appetite for exceptional rare works. It’s very important to understand the patina of this unique legendary provenance.” Embracing the fact that all of the artworks sold to 100% of their value and 2/3’s of them sold above their high estimates.

The sale’s overall total for Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection was US$ 1,622,249,500 which will all be devolved to philanthropic causes.

Cover Image: New York Rockfeller Center. Courtesy of Kooness

Written by: Sveva Berto

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