NEW YORK (AFP) – Paintings and sculptures from the collection of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen were auctioned off for a historic USD1 billion on Wednesday, Christie’s auction house said, with records set for works by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin, Seurat and Klimt.
Five paintings entered the exclusive club of works of art sold for more than USD100 million at auction, the New York auction house said, in a sign that the art market continues to grow despite economic uncertainties related to the war in Ukraine and inflation.
The most expensive piece of the evening, Georges Seurat’s 1888 work Les Poseuses, Ensemble (small version), a renowned work of pointillism, fetched USD149.24 million, including fees, Christie’s said.
The auction house had announced that all the proceeds would be donated to charity.
Wednesday’s auction sold 60 of 150 lots, with the rest sold yesterday.
The value of the collection has already surpassed the record for the Macklowe collection, named after a wealthy New York couple, which fetched USD922 million at competitor Sotheby’s earlier this spring.
Allen made his fortune with the establishment of the PC operating system with his better-known Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in 1975.
He amassed a huge art collection that he loaned to museums before his death in 2018 at the age of 65.
He had a net worth of USD20.3 billion at the time of his death, according to Forbes.
Allen left Microsoft in 1983, due to health problems and a deteriorating relationship with Gates, who remained in charge of the company until 2000.
He founded a pop culture museum in his hometown of Seattle and owned several sports franchises, including the Seattle Seahawks.
Despite their strained friendship, Allen signed Gates’ Giving Pledge campaign and all proceeds from the auction are to be donated to charitable causes.
The sale on Wednesday totalled about USD1.5 billion, according to an AFP calculation, and included French painter Paul Cezanne’s La Montagne Sainte-Victoire – which fetched USD137.8 million, almost double the artist’s auction record.
A work by Vincent Van Gogh Orchard with Cypresses, broke the Dutch artist’s previous record, bringing in USD117.2 million. A painting from Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian period, Maternity II brought USD105.7 million and Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s Birch Forest brought in USD104.6 million.
The billion mark was surpassed on lot number 32, an Alberto Giacometti sculpture Woman of Venice III, which was sold for USD25 million.