The estate of the late Paul Allen, billionaire Microsoft co-founder and noted art collector, has said it will allow “at least” 150 pieces from his collection to be auctioned, with proceeds going to charity. If the pieces end up being as valuable as pre-sale estimates indicate, the sale has the potential to be the largest single public art auction in modern history.
Auction house Christie’s has secured the rights to the collection, which is expected to go up for auction this fall. Pre-sale estimates put the total collection at somewhere in the vicinity of $1 billionwhich would easily top other big-ticket art collection auctions, such as the $922 million collection once owned by Harry and Linda Macklowe, sold earlier this year.
Christie’s still has some work to do before that happens, as the full collection donated by Allen has yet to be fully catalogued. But Christie’s Americas Chairman Marc Porter recently gave the Wall Street Journal a taste of what the public can expect to see at auction, including Jasper Johns’ single-esteemed “Small False Start.” at least $50 million. . “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire”, a 19th century landscape by Paul Cézanne, should be worth even more. After selling for $39 million in 2001, the painting could be worth over $100 million this time around.
Allen, who died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2018, was also known to have acquired at least one work by Claude Monet, having purchased it two years before his death for $81 million. He was a voracious art collector during his lifetime. In an interview, he spoke about his vision for what would happen to his unique collection after his departure:
“You have to do it because you love the works…and you know that all of those works are going to outlast you. You are just the temporary custodian of them.”
Now the paintings and sculptures he collected will find new homes, and the plan is for the money from the sales to go to charity, although the Allen Estate has yet to publicly announce which organization(s). s) will receive the money. Allen’s own philanthropic passions during his lifetime included causes such as the environment, biomedical research and homelessness (with a total of $2 billion reported), so presumably donations from the auction will remain. in this vein.