The Paul Allen collection: a billion dollars at Christie’s?

Co-founder of Microsoft in 1975, Paul Allen was, in addition to a philanthropist, a lover of art and discovery. The value of his personal collection, which consists of more than 150 exceptional works, is said to be close to a billion dollars.

From his early days when he founded Microsoft in 1975 with Bill Gates (they were only 22 and 19 at the time), businessman, philanthropist and art lover Paul G. Allen (1953-2018) led an extraordinary life. One of the main goals of this forward-thinking global patron: “To accelerate discovery and empower some of the world’s brightest minds to solve the toughest challenges.” During his lifetime, his donations exceeded $2.65 billion in all fields – scientific, artistic, social…

His knowledge covered a wide range and throughout his life he sought excellence with very sure judgment: his collection is a visionary. From Jan Brueghel the Younger to Lucian Freud, via Manet, Cézanne or Turner, the sale of this extraordinary collection covering five hundred years of art history is sure to be an unprecedented event. The proceeds from these auctions will be donated to philanthropic works, according to Paul Allen’s last wishes.

The five senses by Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-1678)

This set of painted panels (70.2 x 113.3 cm) representing the five senses (here, Hearing), was executed around 1626, with an incredible wealth of detail. The series was listed as early as 1720 in the collections of Emperor Charles VI, the music lover, in Vienna. As often happened in the painting dynasties of the time, the artist’s father, Jan Brueghel the Elder, had produced the same series earlier in collaboration with Rubens.

The five senses by Jan Brueghel the Younger, 1626. © Christie’s

Estimate for the five pieces: between 4,000,000 and 6,000,000 euros.

The poseurs, together by Georges Seurat (1859-1891)

Seurat’s work fascinated as much as it disturbed his contemporaries. The founder of pointillism had a scientific method of creation that consisted in methodically juxtaposing an extraordinary number of small points of pure color so that they reproduce the light and the normal image. No question of lyricism or emotion in it corpus limited by this solitary and little-known painter, who died at the age of 32, whose works are in American museums. These Poseuses, Togetherpainted in 1888 (same model posed three times), one of the small versions (39.3 x 50 cm) of the large painting (207.6 x 208 cm) is kept at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

Les Poseuses, set by Georges Seurat, 1888.
The poseurs, together by Georges Seurat, 1888. © Christie’s

Estimate over 103,000,000 euros.

Small false start by Jasper Johns (born in 1930)

If we know the most famous work of this painter around the American flag, we know less about his work like Small False Start, which marks a change of direction in his career. In this painting, the color freely splashes the viewer, we are far from the well-framed American flag. Encaustic, acrylic and collage of paper on cardboard (55.6 x 46.4 cm) make up this painting produced in 1960.

Small False Start by Jasper Johns, 1930.
Small false start by Jasper Johns, 1930. © Christie’s

Estimate between 46,000,000 and 67,000,000 euros.

Maternity II by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)

Painted in Tahiti in 1899, this highly personal work, in vivid colors, represents Pahura, the artist’s companion, who was only 17 years old and had just given birth to their son. Paul will name him Émile after his first son born in France in 1874. By this time Gauguin was in his fifties and had not seen his European family for eight years. The distance, the isolation and the loss of two of his children in France had given him the desire for a new family life. The painter kept this painting until his death. This oil on jute (94.7 x 61 cm) was found during the sale of his property in Tahiti.

Maternity II by Paul Gauguin, 1899.
Maternity II by Paul Gauguin, 1899. © Christie’s

Estimate over 92,500,000 euros.

Christie’sin New York, on 9 and 10 November 2022.

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