Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen’s Art Collection Sells for $1.5 Billion, Breaking Auction Records

The first auction in a two-part Christie's sale of Paul Allen's vast collection saw five works sell for more than $100 million each.

Christie's sale auctioning off Georges Seurat painting.
The evening sale broke records as the most valuable auction halfway through the night.
Courtesy of Christie's.

The evening auction of late billionaire Paul Allen’s art collection at Christie’s Nov. 9 realized more than $1.5 billion, shattering estimates and records.

With 60 works spanning 500 years in art history, the sale was the biggest of a private collection in auction history, surpassing Sotheby’s $922 million auction of Harry and Linda Macklowe’s art collection in May.

Georges Seurat painting of three nude women
George Seurat’s Les Poseuses, Ensemble sold for $149.2 million. Courtesy of Christie's.

The auction broke the world record halfway through the night, when Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture Femme de Venise III sold for more than $25 million, according to a press release.

While previously no more than two paintings have sold for more than $100 million in a single sale, the Christie’s auction saw five works exceeding that mark.

Cezanne landscape painting of a mountain
Paul Cezanne’s La Montagne Sainte-Victorie sold for $137.8 million. Courtesy of Christie's

George Seurat’s Les Poseuses, Ensemble yielded the highest price, of nearly $150 million, followed by Paul Cezanne’s La Montagne Sainte-Victorie and Vincent van Gogh’s Verger avec cypres, which sold for more than $137 million and $117 million respectively. Works by Paul Gauguin and Gustav Klimt also fetched prices above $100 million.

All of the lots were sold, with 65 percent going for more than their high estimates. In addition, 18 separate artist records for sales were broken.

Van Gogh painting of trees growing in field
Vincent van Gogh’s Verger avec cypres sold for $117,180,000. Courtesy of Christie's.

Pursuant to the wishes of Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft (MSFT), all of the proceeds from the auction will benefit charitable causes. The prominent art collector, who died in 2018, made $2.65 billion worth of philanthropic donations throughout his lifetime and anonymously loaned several of his pieces to museums over the years.

The remaining 95 pieces in Allen’s collection will be sold today (Nov. 10) in a Christie’s day sale.

Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen’s Art Collection Sells for $1.5 Billion, Breaking Auction Records