New York City, Nov 7 (EFE).- The art collection of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen fetched a record of more than $1.5 billion on Wednesday at Christie’s in New York City.
The auctioning of Allen’s collection, which spans some 500 years, was divided into two days and on this first night, 60 works were offered up, the total of which far exceeded the $922 million raised in May’s sale of the Macklowe collection, until now the most expensive in history.
The most coveted works were those of the great Impressionists, including “Les poseuses, ensemble” by Georges Seurat, an intimate image made with his characteristic pointillism technique, which sold for $149.2 million, five times the highest price previously reached by the artist at auction.
The $100 million-mark was also surpassed by a Cézanne (“La Montaigne Sainte-Victoire,” $137.8 million), a Van Gogh (“Verger avec cyprès” $117.2 million), a Gauguin (“Maternité II,” $105.7 million) and a Klimt (“Birch Forest,” $104.6 million), all of them smashing records for their painters.
Other highlights included a family portrait by Lucien Freud ($86.2 million), one of Claude Monet’s famous bridge scenes ($64.5 million), a colorful abstract painting by Jasper Johns ($55.3 million) and a Venice canal scene by Edouard Manet (almost $52 million).
From the beginning of the sale, interested parties were seen systematically bidding until they broke the records of almost all the artists, raising the question of whether the quality of Allen’s treasures had more weight, or the will to enforce his wish that the proceeds go to philanthropic causes.
The concentration of those present was interrupted only at the end, when after the last hammer blow the total of more than $1.5 billion was announced and there was a flurry of applause.
It is the most expensive collection ever sold at auction – with another day of sales still to come – after that of real estate mogul Harry Macklowe’s divorce auction went for $922.2 million six months ago.
In recent days, the public had been waiting in line to enter Christie’s in the Rockefeller Center to see the nearly 150 works from Botticelli to Hockney collected by Allen, who died in 2018 and was considered a visionary in business as well as in art.
Allen’s collection became the most expensive ever even before the sale ended, and will continue to grow in value Thursday when the remaining 95 pieces are auctioned off, starting with estimated prices well below Wednesday’s, from as low as $3,000 to as high as $7 million. EFE