Published: November 15, 2022
NEW YORK CITY — On Thursday, November 10, Christie’s concluded “Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection,” a landmark philanthropic event. Visionary comprised 155 masterpiece objects spanning 500 years of art history. It was sold over a two-day series of auctions. In total, the collection realized $1,622,249,500, well in excess of the total high estimate. It was 100 percent sold. The regional breakdown by value was 33 percent of buyers from the Americas, 28 percent from Asia and Pacific countries, and the remaining 39 percent of buyers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. There was strength and depth in bidding across the collection, with an average of more than five bidders competing for each lot. Of all the registrants for the sales, nearly 15 percent were new to Christie’s.
New world auction records were set for 27 artists, including Georges Seurat, Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Diego Rivera, Edward Steichen, Barbara Hepworth, Andrew Wyeth, Jasper Johns, Mildred Thompson and Claes Oldenburg.
The first evening was a historic event, achieving more than $1.5 billion over the course of the 60-lot sale. This was the first auction ever to sell five works above $100 million. The sale established 20 records in a variety of collecting categories including Impressionist and Modern, Post-War and Contemporary, and Latin American paintings. Georges Seurat’s “Les Poseuses, Ensemble” (Petite version) led the sale at $149,240,000. The result places the painting as the second most expensive work of art ever to sell at auction, following the $450 million achieved in 2017 by Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvador Mundi.”
Day two of the sale began with a strong showing of artwork spanning all genres and mediums. In total, the sale generated an additional $115,863,500. The top lot of the sale was Oldenburg and Van Bruggen’s monumental sculpture “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” which realized $8,405,000. An additional six artist records were set, including a record for Mildred Thompson, whose String Theory 4 sold for $138,600. The two-part event was livestreamed to more than four million viewers.
From co-founding Microsoft in 1975 to starting his first charitable foundation in 1986, from creating the acclaimed Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in 2000 to launching the Allen Institute in 2003 with its game-changing scientific breakthroughs across brain science, cell science and immunology, Paul G. Allen lived a life motivated by a love of ideas and making the world a better place.
An avid art collector for decades, Allen began publicly sharing pieces from his collection in the late 1990s through dozens of often anonymous loans to museums around the world.
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