A Landmark philanthropic sale. 20 Artist record set. Global participation (by lot): 50% Americas / 12% APAC / 38% EMEA.
Christie’s and the estate of the philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, Paul G. Allen, celebrated an evening sale of historic proportions. Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection, Part I at Christie’s Rockefeller Center featured 60 masterpieces drawn from the greatest movements of the last five centuries of art history, which brought a combined $ 1,506,386,000, establishing this as the most valuable private-collection sale of all time.
The auction broke the world record for a sale just halfway through the bidding when the auctioneer, Jussi Pylkkänen, knocked down Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture, Femme de Venise III, for $25,007,500. The auction was 100% sold, and 122% sold against low estimate. All of the estate’s proceeds from this historic sale will be dedicated to philanthropy, pursuant to Mr Allen’s wishes.
It was a sale of one highlight after another, with five paintings – the most ever in one sale – bringing more than $100 million each, with each one setting a world record. Three of the lots were among the top lots sold of all time. Georges Seurat’s groundbreaking statement on pointillism, Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version) led the evening at $149,240,000.
Paul Cezanne’s monumental landscape, La Montagne Sainte-Victoire brought $137,790,000. Vincent van Gogh’s Verger avec cyprès, which captures the artist’s early encounter with the South of France, achieved $117,180,000. Paul Gauguin’s Maternité II from 1899, one of his most important years, made $105,730,000. Gustav Klimt’s evocative depiction of a Birch Forest, made $104,585,000. The number and size of the record prices set was unprecedented.
Marc Porter, Chairman, Christie’s Americas, said, “The Paul G. Allen Collection will always be celebrated as a monumental collection of masterpieces in support of philanthropy on a historic scale. Christie’s and the Allen Estate have set the world record for the value of a single auction, and it is deeply gratifying that we were able to do so for the benefit of others.
Let’s all take a moment to recall that this was made possible by one man’s passionate pursuit of excellence, and his commitment to making the world a better place. Those are values that Christie’s feels deeply and thanks to Paul Allen, we were able to live our values on this important night.”
“In these last weeks and months, collectors, art lovers and our colleagues around the world have stood on the mountaintop, overlooking 500 years of visionary achievement from Botticelli to Seurat, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin and Freud—and the view was breathtaking. We may never see this range, quantity and quality of masterpieces in one private collection again.”Max Carter, Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art
- Seurat, Les Poseuses Ensemble (Petite version) – $149,240,000
- Cézanne, La montagne Sainte-Victoire – $137,790,000
- Van Gogh, Verger avec cypres – $117,180,000
- Gauguin, Maternite II – $105,730,000
- Klimt, Birch Forest – $104,585,000
- Freud, Large Interior, W11 (After Watteau) – $86,265,000
- Johns, Small False Start – $55,350,000
- Signac, Concarneau, calm de matin – $39,320,000
- Ernst, Le roi jouant avec la reine – $24,435,000
- Wyeth, Day Dream – $23,290,000
- Rivera, The Rivals – $14,130,000
- Francis, Composition in Blue and Black – $13,557,500
- Steichen, The Flatiron – $11,840,000
- Cross, Rio San Trovaso, Venise – $9,550,000
- Brueghel, The Five Senses – $8,634,000
- Hepworth, Elegy III – $8,634,000
- Benton, Nashaquitsa – $5,580,000
- Sidaner, La Serenade Venise – $2,100,000
- Singer Sargent, The Façade of La Salute, Venice – $3,660,000 – for work on paper
- Klee, Bunte Landschaft – $4,860,000 – for work on paper
CHRISTIE’S Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection Part I
November 9 | Notable Highlights
Philanthropist And Innovator Paul G. Allen (1953 – 2018)
From co-founding Microsoft in 1975 to starting his first charitable foundation in 1986, from creating the acclaimed Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in 2000 to launching the Allen Institute in 2003 with its game-changing scientific breakthroughs across brain science, cell science, and immunology, Paul G. Allen lived a life motivated by a love of ideas and making the world a better place.
An avid art collector for decades, Allen began publicly sharing pieces from his collection in the late 1990s through dozens of often anonymous loans to museums around the world. In addition, he mounted exhibitions that shared highlights of his collection with the public, including the renowned Seeing Nature exhibit that toured nationally in 2016. It showcased 39 iconic landscape paintings that demonstrated the natural world and highlighted key moments in the development of the landscape genre.
“You have to be doing it because you just love the works… and you know that all these works are going to outlast you,” Allen reflected in an interview for Seeing Nature. “You’re only a temporary custodian of them.”
In 2010, Allen was an early signer of the Giving Pledge, a commitment to contribute the majority of one’s wealth to charitable causes, and in 2015, he was awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy for dedicating his private wealth to public good. He remarked “…one of my core goals is to accelerate discovery and provide some of the world’s brightest minds with the resources to solve some of the world’s thorniest challenges.”
His philanthropic contributions of more than $2.65 billion during his lifetime deepened our understanding of bioscience, shared art, music, and film with the world, tackled epidemics, helped save endangered species, explored the ocean floor, and invested in more vibrant and resilient communities. Many called Allen a polymath, whose knowledge and skills spanned a wide range of disciplines.
Allen passed away in October 2018, but the breadth and depth of his generosity, and his desire to continue improving the lives of people around the world even after his death, will create impact for generations to come.