The sale of a massively valuable collection of art amassed by late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has set records for some of the world’s highest art prices.
On Wednesday, 60 works of art changed hands for US$1.506 billion in a single auction, making it the largest sale in auction history.
In 155 works of art, the collection represented 500 years of history. Five paintings sold for more than $100 million each, setting new records for modernist masters Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cezanne, as well as art nouveau visionary Gustav Klimt.
“Never before have more than two paintings exceeded $100 million in a single sale, but tonight, we saw five,” said Max Carter, vice chairman of 20th and 21st century art at Christie’s.
Christie’s claims it has the world’s most valuable private art collection after selling an additional $116.6 million in art on the second day of the auction, which ended Thursday. Allen’s art collection grossed $1,622,987,500 in total, with 100% of the pieces sold.
The proceeds from Allen’s art collection will be donated to charity in accordance with the Giving Pledge, a campaign that encourages billionaires to donate the vast majority of their wealth.
The Macklowes, a wealthy New York couple who sold their art collection for $922 million earlier this year, held the previous record for most valuable collection.
According to the BBC, one reason the super-rich may have spent millions at the auction recently is that they see art as a safe investment in the midst of an unstable global economy and the Ukraine war.
Allen died in 2018 of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In 1975, he co-founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Bill Gates. According to Forbes, at the time of his death, he was the 37th richest man in the world, with a net worth of $13.5 billion.
Jody Allen, Allen’s sister, told CNN that art was “both analytical and emotional” to her brother. We’ve compiled a list of notable works from the collection, which includes the five most valuable pieces as well as two Canadian paintings.
Cézanne’s La Montagne Sainte-Victoire, an oil painting of the French mountain range, was the second most valuable piece, fetching $137.8 million. Allen paid $35 million for the painting in 2001, the second-highest price ever paid for a Cézanne work.
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