Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen’s Billion-Dollar Art Collection Goes Up For Sale – It Could Be The Biggest Art Auction Ever

Topline

The billion-dollar art collection of Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft who died in 2018, will be auctioned in November and is expected to exceed the current record for the most expensive sale to date, set by the Macklowe Collection in May.

Highlights

The auction of 150 works will take place in November this year, auction house Christie’s announced (an exact date was not disclosed), with a collection valued at more than $1 billion.

The extensive collection, named “Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection,” features works by some of the most influential names in art, including Paul Cézanne and Jasper Johns, Christie’s said.

According to New York Times, works by Botticelli and Renoir will also be auctioned.

In accordance with Allen’s wishes, proceeds from the auction will be donated to charity, Christie’s said.

Guillaume Cerutti, head of the auction house, told the Time the sale is “a major event for the art market and for the art world”.

Forbes Valuation

$20.3 billion. This is Forbes’ estimate of Allen’s net worth at the time of his death.

Key Context

Allen founded tech giant Microsoft alongside Bill Gates in 1975 and left in the early 1980s after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, although he stayed on the board until 2000. He expressed his love of music and art in part through the founding of what is now known as the Museum of Pop Culture, marked by a futuristic building, in Seattle in 2000. One of America’s biggest philanthropists, he later donated about 10% of his wealth – $2.5 billion – to causes including education and scientific research and he has also indulged his love of sports by buying major basketball, soccer and football teams, including the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Allen died in October 2018 at the age of 65 from complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Peg News

Last year proved a boon for the art market’s post-pandemic recovery, with art sales up nearly 30% to $65 billion, according to a report by UBS and ‘Art Basel published in May.

Tangent

The current record for the most expensive art collection sold at auction was set by the sale of property developer Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda’s collection. Sold by Sotheby’s over a six-month period ending in May, it fetched $922.2 million and included a painting by Rothko that had never been exhibited in public.

Further reading

Art market surpassed pre-pandemic levels in 2021 with $65 billion in sales, report says (Forbes)

Christie’s to sell Paul G. Allen’s $1 billion art collection (New York Times)

The art collection of real estate mogul Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda fetches a record $922.2 million (Forbes)

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65 (Forbes)

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