A few weeks after revealing it won the shipment of what is likely to be the most expensive collection the art market has ever seen at auction, Christie’s has unveiled more than a dozen additional highlights.
The collection in question comes from the late Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen, and totals around 150 works that are expected to fetch an unprecedented $1 billion in two separate live auctions starting November 9. “comprehensive study of the art historical canon,” according to a statement from Christie’s.
The unveiling of the collection was more guarded and drawn out than any in recent memory. The initial announcement included two highlights: A $100 million plus Paul Cézanne landscape and a $50 million Jasper Johns painting.
Since then, the art world has been guessing (and scouring old museum catalogs) to find out what else in Allen’s star-studded collection made the cut. Aow, the details of another 15 jobs have been revealed, with most of the jobs having “estimate on request” prices going well into nosebleed market territory.
Three of the works — a Suerat and a Van Gogh, as well as the previously announced Cézanne — have estimates of more than $100 million each. Two others, a Klimt and a Gauguin, carry estimates of at least $90 million each.
“Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection,” as Christie’s called the presentation, features art spanning 500 years that reflects the depth and breadth of Allen’s taste. All proceeds will be dedicated to philanthropic causes in accordance with Allen’s wishes, according to Christie’s.
In the late 1990s, Allen began sharing works from his collection publicly through often anonymous loans to museums around the world. At the time of his death, he was the world’s 27th richest person.
“It’s hard to imagine that this is the result of one man’s passionate pursuit of excellence, but Paul G. Allen was indeed a visionary, and he was drawn to artists who shared his genius for transforming our world in new ways. see,” said Marc Porter, Christie’s chairman of the Americas, in a statement,
The paintings on offer include Georges Seurat’s Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite Version) (1888), with an unpublished estimate of over $100 million. The painting, the New York Times reported, passed through the hands of a collector who inspired Proust’s character Charles Swann as well as the organizer of the famous 1913 Armory Show. It will certainly shatter the Pointilist artist’s public auction record of $35.2 million, already set in 1999.
The gap between the estimates of the many works and the existing auction records for the artists just shows how rare it is to see art of this level of quality become available all at once, especially in areas of the market where supply is extremely thin .
Paul Gauguin’s Maternity II (1899) has an estimate, also unpublished, of more than $90 million. The artist’s auction record, set in 2006, is $40 million (although his works have reportedly sold privately for as much as $300 million). The same estimate of $90 million is also in place for Gustav Klimt’s birch forest (1903). Allen bought the painting, originally owned by Klimt portraitist Adele Bloch-Bauer and her husband, at Christie’s in 2006 for $40.3 million.
Lucian Freud’s are also presented Large interior, W11 (to Watteau) (1981–83) with an estimate of over $75 million. A rarely seen Van Gogh landscape, Verger avec Cyprès (1888), painted in Arles, has an estimate of over $100 million.
Allen’s tastes span postwar, impressionism, old masters and beyond; the sale will too. A Claude Monet view Waterloo Bridge, soleil voila (1899–1903) has an estimate somewhere over $60 million, and a Venetian painting by Edouard Manet, The Grand Canal in Venice (1874), has an asking price above $50 million.
Three works offered by Paul Signac, a triptych by Francis Bacon, and a JMW Turner Venetian seascape each carry estimates in excess of $20 million. Other highlights include work by Rene Magritte, Louise Bourgeois, Agnes Martin and Georgia O’Keeffe.
A set of five panels by Jan Brueghel the Younger, collectively titled “The Five Senses,” carries an estimate of $4 million to $6 million.
The previously announced Cézanne landscape, La montagne Sainte-Victoire (1888–90), carries an unpublished estimate of $120 million, making it the most expensive work of the group. According to the Artnet Price database, the same work sold in 2001 at Phillips, de Pury and Luxemburg (now Phillips) for $38.5 million. The artist’s auction record currently stands at $60.5 million, way back in 1999.
Jasper Johns’s Small false start (1960) last hit the block in 1989, when it hit $4.1 million. Important works by Johns rarely come to auction; the artist’s public record, set in 2014, is $36 million for a flag painting from 1983. Privately, one 1958 work by Johns sold for as much as $110 million in 2010.
As the art market newsletter The Canvas noted, the competition for the right to sell Allen’s collection was fierce, but also, in keeping with the discreet way in which Allen is said to have collected art during his lifetime, subject to unusually strict non-disclosure agreements.
The highlights will go on a global tour ahead of the November auction, traveling to Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Taipei, Shanghai and London before returning to New York City ahead of the sales.
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