The late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s collection of paintings and sculptures was auctioned off for a record-breaking $1 billion on Wednesday, according to Christie’s auction house, with records being set for pieces by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin, Seurat, and Klimt.
Five paintings joined the elite group of pieces of art that have been sold for over $100 million at auction as of Wednesday night, according to the New York auction house.
Georges Seurat’s 1888 painting “Les Poseuses, Ensemble (small version),” a well-known work of pointillism, sold for $149.24 million, according to Christie’s, making it the most expensive piece of art of the evening.
According to the auction house’s announcement, all of the money will go to charity.
The collection’s valuation has already surpassed the previous high for the Macklowe collection, named for a wealthy New York couple, which sold for $922 million at rival Sotheby’s earlier this spring, despite just 60 of 150 pieces being sold on Wednesday and the remainder being auctioned off Thursday.
According to analysts, the super-rich views art as a secure investment this year amid a turbulent global economy and Russia’s war in Ukraine, which is why the two-day sale took place in New York.
With his more well-known Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Allen built his fortune by creating the PC operating system in 1975.
Before passing in 2018 at age 65, he accumulated a sizable art collection that he lent to institutions.
Due to health issues and a deteriorating working relationship with Gates, who ran Microsoft until 2000, Allen departed the business in 1983.
Despite their stormy relationship, Allen joined Gates’ “Giving Pledge” initiative, and all auction proceeds would be donated to charitable organizations.
The painting “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire” by French artist Paul Cezanne sold for $137.8 million on Wednesday, nearly double the artist’s previous auction record.
Vincent Van Gogh’s “Orchard with Cypresses” brought in $117.2 million, surpassing the previous record for the Dutch artist.
“Maternity II,” a painting by Paul Gauguin from his Tahitian period, sold for $105.7 million.
The “Birch Forest” by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt made $104.6 million.
On Thursday, 95 additional pieces from Allen’s collection will be for sale.