The art collection of Paul Allen, the late co-founder of Microsoft, fetched more than $1.5 billion at Christie’s New York on Wednesday night, making it the most valuable single-owner art collection ever to be sold at auction.
The auction — the first of two sales of Allen’s art for charity — exceeded the record $922 million private art collection brought in earlier this year by real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his former spouse Linda Macklowe.
Several of the lots offered from Allen’s collection surpassed $100 million, achieving record auction prices for their artists. Georges Seurat’s Les Poseuses Ensemble, the most valuable artwork sold during the auction so far, fetched $149.24 million. Paul Cézanne’s La Montagne Sainte-Victoire sold for $137.8 million, while Vincent Van Gogh’s Verger avec cyprès sold for $117.2 million and Paul Gauguin’s Maternité II sold for $105.7 million.
The artwork, along with another 95 pieces to be auctioned on Thursday, are part of more than 150 paintings spanning several centuries that Allen collected over several decades. In addition to being a tech pioneer and philanthropist, Allen was passionate about art and culture, gaining a reputation as a serious art collector after leaving Microsoft in 1983. Allen died in 2018 at 65 of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In addition to masterpieces by Renoir and Monet, other artists represented in Allen’s wide-ranging collection include Picasso, Botticelli and Jan Brueghel, as well as more contemporary artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Edward Hopper and David Hockney.
The proceeds from the sale will go to charity, in accordance with Allen’s wishes. During his lifetime, Allen donated more than $2 billion to charitable causes.