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Christie’s to sell Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s $1 billion art collection

<i>Elaine Thompson/AP</i><br/>Paul Allen
Elaine Thompson/AP
Paul Allen

By Toyin Owoseje, CNN

The personal art collection of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen could raise more than $1 billion when it goes under the hammer in November, in what is being billed as the largest auction sale in history.

“Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection” will be offered at Christie’s in New York, with all proceeds going to philanthropic causes, the auction house said.

Spanning 500 years of art history, the sale will include Paul Cézanne’s painting “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire,” which is expected to fetch more than $100 million, and Jasper Johns’ “Small False Start,” which has an estimate of over $50 million.

“The inspirational figure of Paul Allen, the extraordinary quality and diversity of works, and the dedication of all proceeds to philanthropy, create a unique combination that will make the sale of the Paul G. Allen Collection an event of unprecedented magnitude,” said Christie’s CEO, Guillaume Cerutti.

Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2018 at the age of 65.

Jody Allen, Paul Allen’s sister and executor, said in a press statement that, to her brother, art was “both analytical and emotional.”

“He believed that art expressed a unique view of reality — combining the artist’s inner state and inner eye — in a way that can inspire us all. His collection reflects the diversity of his interests, with their own mystique and beauty.”

After spending several decades assembling his collection, Allen lent works to museums around the world. He also mounted exhibitions of highlights of his collection — for example, the 2016 “Seeing Nature” exhibition, which showcased 39 important landscape paintings.

“To live with these pieces of art is truly amazing,” he told Bloomberg in 2015. “I feel that you should share some of the works to give the public a chance to see them.”

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