Christie’s will auction Microsoft co-founder Allen’s $1bn-plus art collection

FILE – OCTOBER 15: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at age 65 from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. SEATTLE, WA – OCTOBER 1: Seahawks owner Paul Allen congratulates NFL Hall of Fame member and former Seahawk Kenny Easley as he has his number retired at halftime of the game between the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts at CenturyLink Field on October 1, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by OTTO GREULE JR / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) – Christie’s announced plans Thursday to auction the art collection of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, which is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion.

The November sale of more than 150 pieces spanning 500 years of art will be “the largest and most rare art auction in history,” Christie’s said in a statement.

Among the works was French painter Paul Cezanne’s “La montagne Sainte-Victoire,” which fetched more than $100 million, the auction house said.

It is conducting an auction of the late billionaire’s estate. Christie said all proceeds will go to charity, in accordance with the wishes of Allen, who was an avid art collector, innovator and philanthropist.

Allen, who died in 2018 at the age of 65, co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975. Together, they developed a PC operating system that made a fortune for the US technology giant.

Allen left the company in 1983, due to health problems and a deteriorating relationship with Gates, who remained in charge of Microsoft until 2000.

The auction record for a private collection was set this spring by US couple Harry and Linda Macklowe, with $922 million fetched in auctions conducted by Sotheby’s.

In addition to the work by Cezanne, the Allen collection features a work titled “Small False Start” by American painter Jasper Johns, which is worth more than $50 million, The New York Times reported.

Christie’s has not detailed what else is in the collection, but a traveling exhibit in 2016 gave a glimpse of the riches of the Allen art trove.

It features works by Monet, Manet, Klimt and others.

This year is shaping up to be one of the biggest ever in the art market.

In addition to the Macklowe auction, an Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe sold in May for $195 million — a record for a piece of 20th-century art.

Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti says the Allen auction is like no other.

“The inspirational figure of Paul Allen, the exceptional quality and diversity of the works, and the dedication of all proceeds to charity, create a unique combination that will make the sale of the Paul G. Allen Collection an event of no magnitude,” said Cerutti.

“For Paul, art is both analytical and emotional. He believes that art expresses a unique view of reality –- combining the inner state and inner eye of the artist –- in a way that can inspire us all,” said Jody Allen, the executor of the estate.

“His collection reflects the diversity of his interests, with its own mystery and beauty.”

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© Agence France-Presse