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Christie’s to auction Microsoft co-founder Allen’s USD1 billion-plus art collection

NEW YORK (AFP) – Christie’s announced plans on Thursday to auction the art collection of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, which it estimated to be worth more than USD1 billion.

The November sale of more than 150 pieces spanning 500 years of art will be “the largest and most exceptional art auction in history”, Christie’s said in a statement.

The works will include La montagne Sainte-Victoire by French painter Paul Cezanne, valued at more than USD100 million, the auction house said.

It is holding the auction with the late billionaire’s estate. Christie’s said all proceeds will go to charitable causes, as per the wishes of Allen, who was an avid art collector, innovator and philanthropist.

Allen, who died in 2018 at the age of 65, co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975. Together, they came up with the PC operating system that made a fortune for the United States (US) technology giant.

Allen left the company in 1983, due to health problems and a deteriorating relationship with Gates, who remained in charge of Microsoft until 2000.

Paul Allen. PHOTO: AFP

The auction record for a private collection was set this spring by the US couple Harry and Linda Macklowe, with USD922 million fetched in auctions conducted by Sotheby’s.

Other than the work by Cezanne, the Allen collection features a work entitled Small False Start by American painter Jasper Johns, valued at more than USD50 million, The New York Times reported.

Christie’s did not detail what else is in the collection, but a travelling exhibit in 2016 gave a glimpse of the richness of the Allen art trove.

It features works by Monet, Manet, Klimt and others. This year is shaping up as one of the biggest ever in the art market.

Besides the Macklowe auction, an Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe sold in May for USD195 million – a record for a piece of 20th-Century art.

Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti said the Allen auction will be like no other.

“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 said.

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