Nov 10, 2022 - Economy & Business

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's art collection smashes auction record

Art handlers hold a painting titled 'Madonna of the Magnificat' by Alessandro Filipepi, called Sandro Botticelli in London, England.

Art handlers hold Sandro Botticelli's "Madonna of the Magnificat" painting, which sold for $48 million on Wednesday, during an October preview of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's collection in London, England. Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Paul Allen's art collection fetched more than $1.5 billion at Christie's New York on Wednesday evening — part one of a two-day auction of works owned by the late Microsoft co-founder.

Why it matters: The $1,506,386,000 reached for the 60 works owned by Allen obliterates the previous record for the most valuable private collection ever auctioned, set when divorcing spouses Harry and Linda Macklowe sold their artworks for $922 million last year.

By the numbers: Paintings by five celebrated artists each sold for more than $100 million: Paul Gaugin ($106m), Georges Seurat ($149m), Paul Cézanne ($138m), Vincent Van Gogh ($117m), Gustav Klimt ($105m).

The big picture: Seurat's "Les Poseuses, Ensemble" painting went for five times the previous auction record for artwork by the French post-Impressionist artist.

  • A 1904 photo by Edward Steichen of New York's Flatiron building fetched $11.8 million — four times the estimate. It's also the second-most pricey photo ever sold, CNBC notes.

What's next: Christie's was auctioning off a further 95 artworks from Allen's collection on Thursday.

  • The estate "will dedicate all proceeds from the landmark series of sales to philanthropy," Christie's noted on its website.

Of note: Over 20,000 people viewed Allen's collection ahead of the auction, "with lines as long as two hours stretching down Rockefeller Plaza in midtown," per the New York Times.

In photos: Allen collection auction preview highlights
A painting titled 'Three Studies for Self-Portrait' by Francis Bacon.
Francis Bacon's "Three Studies for Self-Portrait" at the London preview. Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Art handlers hold a painting titled 'La montagne Sainte-Victoire' by Paul Cezanne in London.
Cézanne's "La montagne Sainte-Victoire," which sold for $138 million on Wednesday. Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
An art handler holds a painting titled 'Le spectre de Vermeer de Delft' by Salvador Dali in London.
Salvador Dalí's 'Le spectre de Vermeer de Delft." Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
 Art handlers hold a painting titled 'Queen Anne's Lace Near Kilham' by David Hockney in London.
David Hockney's "Queen Anne's Lace Near Kilham." Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Art handlers hold a painting titled 'Le Grand Canal a Venise' by Edouard Manet on display in London.
Edouard Manet's "Le Grand Canal a Venise." Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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