Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, will sell his $1 billion art collection at Christie’s
According to a story in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, the art collection of late tech magnate Paul Allen (cofounder of Microsoft, who died at age 65 in 2018) will be sold at Christie’s in what is expected to be one of the most expensive single-owner sales ever to come to the open market.
His collection is now valued at more than $1 billion. They have not yet specified when Allen’s assets would be put up for auction.
A collection of 150 works from Allen’s collection will be auctioned off by Christie’s. This auction is expected to break the record set by two recent high-profile single-owner sales for the sale of an art collection. The sale of the court-ordered Macklowe collection, sold at Sotheby’s earlier this year, yielded $922 million, and the sale of the David Rockefeller collection, sold at Christie’s in 2018, generated $835 million.
Allen gave his whole wealth to his sister Jody Allen, who is now the chair of their investment firm Vulcan.
Jody Allen is the executor of estate.
Among the works from the collection that will be put up for auction is Jasper Johns’s 1960 canvas Small False Start, which is expected to fetch at least $50 million, and Paul Cézanne’s 1888–90 landscape La Montagne Sainte-Victoire, which is expected to fetch around $100 million.
The auction’s chairman for Christie’s America, Marc Porter, has announced that all funds raised would be donated to charity. The auction house and Allen’s estate representatives have not yet named any recipients. During his lifetime, Allen, a well-known philanthropist, donated over $2 billion to various organisations working in the fields of medicine, the environment, and the arts. Both the Seattle Art Fair (in 2015) and the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) (2000), both cultural institutions in Seattle, were founded by him.
His vast collection included works from the Old Masters, the Impressionists, the Modernists, and even contemporary artists. Canaletto, Botticelli, Jan Brueghel, Renoir, Manet, Gauguin, Seurat, and Mark Rothko, Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder, Ed Ruscha, and David Hockney were all on display.
Other significant pieces he has acquired at auction include Mark Rothko’s 1956 abstraction Yellow Over Purple for $14.3 million and Paul Gauguin’s 1899 canvas Maternity II for $39.2 million, both in the early 2000s. He paid $40.3 million at Christie’s in 2006 for Gustav Klimt’s 1903 landscape Birch Forest.
Very few significant pieces from Allen’s collection have reportedly changed hands. In 2016, Phillips sold a realistic painting of an aeroplane by Gerhard Richter called Dsenjäger (1953) from Allen’s collection for $25.5 million.