Works of art from late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen‘s collection were sold at a
history-making auction Wednesday night.
The treasure trove of “60 extraordinary works” fetched more than $1.5 billion,
becoming the most valuable private collection of all time and also breaking multiple
additional records, according to Christie’s.
“Never before have more than two paintings exceeded $100 million in a single sale,
but tonight, we saw five,” Max Carter, Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, said
in a statement. “Four were masterpieces from the fathers of modernism — Cézanne,
Seurat, van Gogh and Gauguin.”
The evening’s top draw was Georges Seurat’s Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version),
which sold for an eye-popping $149,240,000 — shattering the record for the artist.
Fittingly, the piece held special significance for the philanthropist.
“Because of my computer background, I’m attracted to things like Pointillism or a
Jasper Johns ‘numbers’ work because they come from breaking something down into
its components — like bytes or numbers, but in a different kind of language,” he once
said, according to the auction house.
Cézanne’s La Montagne Sainte-Victoire sold for $137,790,000. The landmark painting
marked a pivotal turn for the artist into more abstract territory, Christie’s said, and
helped to pave the way for Cubism.
Meanwhile, other records were set by the sale of van Gogh’s Verger avec cyprês and
Gauguin’s monumental Maternité II, which were sold for $117,180,000 and
$105,730,000 respectively. The former painting is one of 14 canvases dedicated to the
luminous landscape of Provence, while the latter artwork was painted in Tahiti in
The historic sale continues Friday morning, with more masterworks in the offing,
including sculptures by Alexander Calder, Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso.
The entire collection of art spans 500 years, from the Renaissance to modernism’s