The art collection left by Paul Allen (1953-2018), who co-founded Microsoft (MS) with Bill Gates, sold for 1.5 billion U.S. dollars (including commission) at Christie's Auction House in New York on Wednesday (local time). Bloomberg News reported that it was the highest record for a private collection in auction history. The second most-highest bid on record is the collection (922 million dollars) left by U.S. real estate mogul Harry B. Macklowe and his wife last May.
The highest-selling work of Allen's 60 pieces at auction was "Models (Poseuses)" by French pointillist artist Georges Seurat, which was sold at 149.4 million dollars. Pointillism holds great significance in art history as it led to the birth of Impressionism. Most of Seurat's works are housed in world-famous art museums. Thus, the rarity of individually held works raised the winning bid price.
Other works include Paul Cézanne's "Mont Sainte-Victoire" (138 million dollars), Van Gogh's "Orchard Bordered by Cypresses" (117 million dollars),” and Gustav Klimt's “Birch Forest” (105 million dollars), as well as other expensive masterpieces exceeding 100 million dollars, were all exhibited at this auction, drawing significant attention.
The New York Times reported that famous art dealers such as Larry Gagosian and François Pinault, owner of Christie's Auction House, were also present at the auction. Pinault is the founder of Kering Group, which has international luxury groups under its umbrellas, such as Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga.
The fact that the auction was successful on the day despite the global economic downturn, analyzed by The New York Times, suggests that the prohibitively expensive art market is not significantly affected by the recession. Proceeds from the auction will be used for charity to respect Allen's will.
Allen met Gates at "Lakeside School," a prestigious private school in western Washington. He co-founded Microsoft in 1975 when he was 23 years old. The business was booming, but in 1982 he came down with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of rare blood cancer, and resigned from the management position. Since then, he has been involved in various activities, including running a sports club, investing in brain science and artificial intelligence research, and building a music museum. At the time of his death in 2018, he was reported to have a fortune of 20.3 billion dollars.
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