Billion-Dollar Art Collection Of Microsoft Cofounder Paul Allen Going On Sale—It Could Be The Biggest Art Auction Ever

Forbes
Published 5 months ago
USA – Technology – Paul Allen Promotes New Memoir

TOPLINE

The billion-dollar art collection of Paul Allen, the Microsoft cofounder who died in 2018, will be auctioned this November and is poised to surpass the current record for the most expensive sold to date, set by the Macklowe Collection in May.

KEY FACTS

The auction of 150 works will take place in November this year, auction house Christie’s announced (an exact date was not disclosed), with the collection valued at more than $1 billion.

The expansive collection, named ‘Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection’, features works from some of the most influential names in art including Paul Cézanne and Jasper Johns, Christie’s said.

According to the New York Times, works from Botticelli and Renoir will also be auctioned.

In line with Allen’s wishes, proceeds from the auction will be given to charity, Christie’s said.

Guillaume Cerutti, head of the auction house, told the Times the sale is “a major event for the art market and for the art world.”

FORBES VALUATION

$20.3 billion. That’s Forbes’ estimate of Allen’s net worth at the time of his death.

KEY BACKGROUND

Allen founded tech giant Microsoft alongside Bill Gates in 1975 and left in the early 1980s after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, although he stayed on the board until 2000. He expressed his love of music and art in part through the founding of what is now known as the Museum of Pop Culture, marked by a futuristic-looking building, in Seattle in 2000. One of America’s top philanthropists, he went on to donate about 10% of his wealth—$2.5 billion—to causes including education and science research and he also indulged his love of sports with the purchase of major basketball, soccer and football teams, including the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. Allen died in October 2018 aged 65 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

NEWS PEG

Last year proved a boon for the art market’s recovery from the pandemic, with sales of art up almost 30% to $65 billion, according to a UBS and Art Basel report out in May.

TANGENT

The current record for the most expensive art collection sold at auction was set by the sale of real estate developer Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda’s collection. Sold by Sotheby’s over a six-month period ending in May, it brought in an eye-watering $922.2 million and included a Rothko painting never before exhibited in public.

FURTHER READING

Art Market Surpassed Pre-Pandemic Levels In 2021 With $65 Billion In Sales, Report Says (Forbes)

Microsoft Cofounder Paul Allen Dies At 65 (Forbes)

By Isabel Togoh, Forbes Staff