The billion dollar art collection of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen will go under the hammer this November in one of the biggest art auctions in history.
In a statement, Christie’s said that the famed auction house will sell off more than 150 ‘masterpieces’ belonging to Allen’s foundation. The collection spans over 500 years of art history while the value of the works is more than $1 billion. The auction is titled: ‘Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection.’ The proceeds will be divided up among various charities.
Among the artists’ whose work is featured in Allen’s collection include Paul Cezanne, Jasper Johns, David Hockney, Edward Hopper, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georgia O’Keefe, Paul Gauguin, Roy Lichtenstein and Claude Monet. Following Allen’s death, it was revealed that he was the anonymous buyer of Monet’s haystacks painting titled Meule in 2016. The painting sold for $81.4 million.
Allen passed away in October 2018 at the age of 65 due to complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a rare form of cancer. He never married and had no children.
He struck gold when he founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, his childhood friend who he convinced to drop out of Harvard to start the company. He left the company in 1983 but remained on the board until 2000.
At the time of his death, Allen’s net worth was estimated to be over $20 billion. In 2010, Allen signed a pledge to leave most of his fortune to charity.
The auction will take place at Christie’s Rockefeller Center this November. The exact date was not confirmed.
Claude Monet’s 1919 work Water Lily Pond is one of the masterpieces owned by Paul Allen
Paul Cezanne’s La Montagne Sainte-Victoire vue de Bellevue, a part of the French impressionist Paul Cezane’s early 20th century oil painting series will go for over $100 million
Botticelli’s Madonna of the Magnificat may go under the hammer in November
Another of Allen’s works was The Reader by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
In addition to his classical tastes, Allen also possessed pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s The Kiss
In 2000, Paul allen paid Sotheby’s $14.3 million for Mark Rothko’s 1956 abstract
Among the artists’ whose work is featured in Allen’s collection include Paul Cezanne, Jasper Johns, David Hockney, Edward Hopper, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georgia O’Keefe, Paul Gauguin, Roy Lichtenstein and Claude Monet
Allen said of his artwork in an interview: ‘You have to be doing it because you just love the works… and you know that all these works are going to outlast you. You’re only a temporary custodian of them.’
His sister, and the executor of his state, Jody Allen, told DailyMail.com in a statement: ‘To Paul, art was both analytical and emotional. He believed that art expressed a unique view of reality – combining the artist’s inner state and inner eye – in a way that can inspire us all. His collection reflects the diversity of his interests, with their own mystique and beauty.’
Jody Allen went on to say that it was her brother’s wishes that his art collection be sold on after his death with the funds going towards charitable causes.
She said: ‘These works mean so much to so many, and I know that Christie’s will ensure their respectful dispersal to generate tremendous value for philanthropic pursuits in accordance with Paul’s wishes.’
The statement did not name the specific charitable causes in question. Among the causes that Allen was passionate about during his lifetime was medical research, bioscience, endangered species and homelessness. During his lifetime, Allen’s charitable donations exceeded $2 billion.
American modernist artist Georgia O’Keefe completed her work White Rose with Larkspur No 1 in 1927
The full list of works being auctioned off at Christie’s this fall has not been made public but this work, The Grand Canal, Venice, Looking Southeast, with the Campo della Carità to the Right by Canaletto, is one of the paintings in Allen’s collection
Jan Brueghel’s The Sight, another Allen’s prized possessions. During his life, Allen referred to himself as a ‘custodian’ of great works of art
Jasper Johns’s 1959 collage work False Start is expected to fetch over $50 million at the November auction of Paul Allen’s collection
Pictured, Gustav Klimt’s Birch Forest, in announcing the auction Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti said of Allen: ‘His life was guided by his desire to make this world a better place’
Between 1892 and 1893, Monet painted a series of paintings offering different views of the Rouen Cathedral in Rouen, France
While Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti said in a statement: ‘The inspirational figure of Paul Allen, the extraordinary quality and diversity of works, and the dedication of all proceeds to philanthropy, create a unique combination that will make the sale of the Paul G. Allen Collection an event of unprecedented magnitude.’
Cerutti continued: ‘Paul’s life was guided by his desire to make this world a better place. We believe that presenting his collection at auction and giving the opportunity to wider audiences to discover it will be a fitting tribute to celebrate Paul Allen’s vision and legacy.’
The works in the Allen collection that are expected to bring in the most money include Paul Cezanne’s La Montagne Saint-Victoire, expected to bring in $100 million, and Jasper Johns’s collage Small False State, priced around $50 million.
In 2001, La Montagne Saint-Victoire sold at auction for $39 million.
DailyMail.com has asked Christie’s for a more thorough list of items up for auction. According to the New York Times, works by Botticelli and Renoir will be sold off.
In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the art world continues to see major gains. According to a UBS study, the art market generated over $65 billion in 2021 alone. The US art market made up 43 percent of the value share.
This past May, billionaire real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda Burg sold the most expensive collection of art ever at Sotheby’s for a cool $922 million after arguing so bitterly about its value that a judge ordered them to auction it off.
Gauguin’s Maternite II was painted in 1899. During his life, Allen was a regular attendee of the Venice Biennale art festival in Italy
The couple’s collection, which included works by Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter, was sold off at Sotheby’s in New York City in two separate auctions. The previous record was held by banker David Rockefeller and his wife, Peggy, who sold off their $835 million collection in 2018.
That same month, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn by Andy Warhol, became the most expensive single piece of art ever when it was auctioned off to an unknow buyer at Christie’s for over $195 million.
Allen was known for his eclectic collections that included the first chair sat in by William Shatner in the first episode of the television series Star Trek as well as a range of guitars owned by Jimi Hendrix. In 2000, Allen founded Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture while in 2015, he founded the Seattle Art Fair.
During his life, Allen was a regular attendee of the Venice Biennale art festival in Italy.
In 2015, he told Bloomberg: ‘To live with these pieces of art is truly amazing. I feel that you should share some of the works to give the public a chance to see them.’ Allen said in the same interview that his art collection was a ‘very, very good investment for me.’
Allen’s advisor on art acquisitions, Pablo Schugurensky, told ArtNet following the tech billionaire’s death: ‘He would ask questions and listen, and would remember everything. He was ambitious about collecting and he was always extremely curious about learning.’
In the same piece, the executive director of the Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington, Ben Heywood, said of Allen’s collection: ‘What differentiates Paul from other top collectors is that he didn’t have any need to justify his collecting to anybody. [Allen] was not collecting as part of a peer activity where the collections were assembled in order to make him look good.’
According to Allen’s official website, he got his love of art from his parents. The biography reads in part: ‘Art was always a part of Paul’s childhood, introduced to him by his parents, but it was only years later that he became more aware of its life-changing impact.’
It was a visit to London’s Tate Gallery that exposed him to classical works by J.M.W Turner as well as the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein. That visit left Allen ‘profoundly moved.’ The bio continues by saying: ‘That experience ignited within him a passion for art — and for making art accessible to more people.’
Allen, left, poses with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates; the pair became friends in high school before starting one of the most influential companies of the 20th century
Allen was born in Seattle, Washington, where he was raised and eventually attended Lakeside School, the private learning institution where he first became friends with Gates.
In their teenage years the two worked in the computer labs at the nearby University of Washington, and upon graduating Allen spent two years at Washington State University.
He dropped out before getting a degree though and headed off to Boston, where he took a job as a computer programmer at Honeywell.
That put him close to Gates, who was two years younger and attending Harvard at the time.
Once Gates dropped out of Harvard the two got started on their new company, putting a BASIC programming language interpreter on the market in 1975 and the following year starting to build a staff.
In 1978 Microsoft’s revenue exceeded a million dollars and the next year the company moved from Albuquerque to Seattle.
Microsoft made its next leap forward in 1980 when the company was chosen by IBM to create the operating system for its first PC.
Following Allen’s death, Gates said in a statement: ‘I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paul Allen. From our early days together at Lakeside School, through our partnership in the creation of Microsoft, to some of our joint philanthropic projects over the years, Paul was a true partner and dear friend,’ he said in a statement. ‘Personal computing would not have existed without him.’
‘Paul wasn’t content with starting one company. He channeled his intellect and compassion into a second act focused on improving people’s lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world. He was fond of saying, ‘If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it.’ That’s the kind of person he was.’