Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s $1 billion art collection is up for auction – Aumag The Talks Today

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s $1 billion art collection up for auction

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen collected chemistry sets as a boy, but the trove of paintings and sculptures he later amassed could be worth more than a billion dollars when auctioned at Christie’s this fall.

Christie’s confirmed Thursday it has been granted the right to sell at least 150 works of art from Mr. Allen’s estate – now poised to be the most expensive art collection the auction industry has ever managed. The sale is estimated to include the $922 million fortune of real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda Macklowe, which was sold earlier this year, and the $835 million fortune of banker David Rockefeller and his wife Peggy will surpass in 2018 Mr Allen died in 2018 aged 65 after a recurrence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s Americas, said the house must complete cataloging of all 150 works before there could be more details on the auction’s offerings, although he confirmed that Jasper Johns’ 1960 ‘Small False Start’ will be included , whose selling price is estimated at least $50 million, and Paul Cézanne’s landscape “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire” from 1888-90.

Cézanne was last auctioned in 2001 for $39 million; Mr. Porter estimates it could sell for at least $100 million in New York in November.

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As with the Rockefeller estate, all proceeds from Mr. Allen’s sales will go to charity, though no beneficiaries have been named, the house said. During his lifetime, Mr. Allen donated $2 billion to foundations dedicated to biomedical research, culture, environmental issues and homelessness.

Paul Cézanne’s 1888-90 landscape, La Montagne Sainte-Victoire, is set to sell for at least $100 million in November.

Photo:
Courtesy of the estate of Paul G. Allen

Jody Allen, the collector’s sister and custodian of his estate, described her brother in a statement as “analytical and emotional,” adding, “He believed that art expressed a unique view of reality – by expressing the inner state and the inner artist’s eye combined in a way that can inspire us all.”

Since collectors tend to pay premiums for art associated with notable owners, Mr. Allen’s estate could prove to be the fall art season’s marketing bonanza. “Collecting art was personal to him, an element of his intellectual exploration,” said Mr. Porter of the collector.

Mr. Allen’s role as a pioneer of the personal computer industry, along with his high school friend Bill Gates, has long been the stuff of Silicon Valley legend. After leaving Microsoft in 1983, he increasingly devoted himself to art. He was partly inspired by his father, a librarian who, according to Mr. Allen’s autobiography Idea Man, collected Chinese celadon pottery from 1916-1936 and hung a poster of Georges Rouault’s The Old King in the family living room.

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In the early 1990s, Mr. Allen made waves at major auctions, eventually gaining a reputation as a fiercely private but omnivorous collector. Even his autobiography did not delve into the backstories of his holdings of Impressionist and Modern art. In other areas of collecting, he seemed more willing to talk about his activities, from fighter jets and Jimi Hendrix’s electric guitars to historical manuscripts and Captain Kirk’s first “Star Trek” command chair. He loaned or donated many of these items to museums he founded, such as the Experience Music Project in Seattle, now renamed the Museum of Pop Culture, or the Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s $1 billion art collection is up for auction – Aumag The Talks Today

Mr. Allen began making waves at major auctions in the early 1990’s.

Photo:
Robyn Twomey/Redux

Only his blue-chip paintings and sculptures will be offered at Christie’s auction, the auction house said. Mister. Porter said that Mr. Allen tended to seek artworks that represented “watershed moments” in artists’ careers, including the Cézanne mountain landscape, which is now considered a seminal example of the artist’s experiments with early abstraction.

Two museum exhibitions in Seattle in 2006 and 2019-2020 drawn from his collection provide clues to potential pieces that could be auctioned. Earlier works loaned to Mr. Allen or his estate include Sandro Botticelli’s Madonna of the Magnificat c.1480-1489, Jan Brueghel the Younger’s The Five Senses: The Vision of 1625 and Canaletto’s Venetian scene The Grand Canal” from 1783 “. , Venice, looking south-east from Saint Eustace towards the New Rialto buildings.”

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Mister. Porter declined to name other specific works in the estate sale, but acknowledged that Mr. Allen’s collection spanned 500 years of art history and often included landscapes from places he loved to travel, including Italy and France.

Impressionist works known to be in Mr. Allen’s collection, according to previous museum exhibits, include: Edgar Degas’ Woman Seated in Front of a Piano of 1882-85, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s The Reader from 1877 and several examples by Claude Monet, including the famous views of Rouen Cathedral and the lily ponds.

Mr. Allen is also known for having purchased several powerful modern pieces, including Georgia O’Keeffe’s “White Rose with Larkspur No. 1” from 1927 and Roy Lichtenstein’s “The Kiss” from 1962.

The sale could also give the market a chance to see whether Mr. Allen’s previous purchases have risen in value — and by how much. In 2000 he paid Sotheby’s $14.3 million for Mark Rothko’s 1956 abstract Yellow Over Purple, and in 2004 he paid the same house $39.2 million for Paul Gauguin’s 1899 Maternity II. Two years later he paid Christie’s 40 $.3 million million for Gustav Klimt’s “Birch Forest” from 1903.

Write to Kelly Crow at [email protected]

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