Christie’s hopes for ‘biggest season ever’ with sale of Microsoft co-founder’s collection

Less famous than Bill Gates, Paul Allen was a billionaire with a passion for art and pop culture. This auction can bring more than one billion dollars, which is a record. All proceeds will be donated to charity.

Will the art collection cross the symbolic threshold of one billion dollars? Christie’s auction house in New York is aiming to set a historic record by auctioning works belonging to the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, symbolizing a market that has shaken the market despite the crises in the world.

Less known to the general public than Bill Gates, with whom he founded Microsoft in 1975, Paul Allen was a jack-of-all-trades billionaire with a passion for pop culture, from Jimi Hendrix to Nirvana or Star Trek. exhibited in the museum in Seattle (northwest), where he was born.

The owner of several sports franchises, including the Seattle Seahawks, also amassed a substantial art collection that he loaned to museums before his death in 2018.

500 years of art history

The 150 works on sale Wednesday and Thursday at Christie’s headquarters at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan span more than 500 years of art history, from Botticelli and Canaletto to Georgia O’Keeffe and Louise Bourgeois, through Claude Monet, Francis. Bacon and Edward Hopper.

Unique, the assembly is also unique in its value: several masterpieces are valued at least 100 million dollars, for example The Poseuses, Together (short version) (1888) by Georges Seurat, the pinnacle of pointillism or a Mount Sainte-Victoire (1888-1890) by Paul Cézanne, herald of Cubism.

At Christie’s, New York, October 12, 2022, a woman stands in front of one of Jasper Johns’ “False Starts.” FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP

Also included “Cypress Orchard” A painting from the Tahiti period by Vincent Van Gogh or by Paul Gauguin, Motherhood II (1899), which features his 17-year-old mistress Pahura. One of the most sought after, this Tahiti period by Gauguin also became controversial due to the artist’s relationships with teenage girls while on the island.

Expected sales record

Despite falling out with Bill Gates, Paul Allen signed him To give bail in 2009 and all sales will be donated to charity. His sister Jody Allen, who heads the Paul Allen Foundation, did not provide details of the works to benefit.

Christie’s, which is controlled by Francois Pinault’s Artémis holding company, hopes to mark the history of the art market anyway, with a fortune of more than a billion dollars. That would be a new record, after the Macklowe collection, named after a wealthy New York couple, fetched $922 million at rival Sotheby’s in the spring.

With these sales and a portrait of Marilyn Monroe Sage Blue shot Marilyn The 20th century record set by Andy Warhol, which went for $195 million in May, may remain one of the most expensive years in history.

to the left “Supported” by artist Brice Marden, exhibited at Christie’s, New York, October 12, 2022. FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP

Another famous Warhol, The White Disaster [White Car Crash 19 Times] (1963), depicting a car accident, of which only three exist in this monumental format, will be sold by Sotheby’s on November 16 for more than $80 million.

Art, the new safe haven

The company, owned by French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, will be auctioned in four days and “Greatest Season Ever”.

Art is a safer investment than ever in the eyes of the ultra-rich amid a tough economic climate, with the Ukraine war and risks of recession, according to auction house experts. “Clients want to diversify their assets, profit from art, and know that most works continue to appreciate over time.”Adrien Meyer, co-president of the Impressionists and Contemporary Art department at Christie’s, explains to AFP.

“No signs of slowing down”

“Billionaires are more than masterpieces” available on the market, summarizes Adrien Meyer, and “Demand is very diverse”.

Phillips Auction House Vice President Jeremiah Evarts confirms this trend: “We don’t see any signs of slowing down.” However, he makes it clear“A lot of collectors are looking at the 20th century and maybe they feel more confident buying a Picasso or a Chagall or a bets.”

In particular, Phillips will be selling a 1911 painting by Marc Chagall on November 15. Fathera work stolen by the Nazis and recently returned to the rightful heirs by France who decided to part with it.

SEE ALSO – For Emmanuel Macron, Pierre Soulages was “a great painter, a classic in his lifetime”.

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