Paul G. Allen’s art at Christie’s tops $1.5 billion, breaking records

Just when it seemed like the high-flying art market couldn’t get any higher, paintings and sculptures from the Microsoft co-founder’s collection Paul J Allenreached $1.5 billion at Christie’s New York Wednesday night, making it the largest sale in auction history.

It was Allen’s first two sales, breaking a six-month-old record of $922 million set at Sotheby’s for art from Harry and Linda McCullougharguing spouses whose divorce settlement included the sale of their group.

Where the $100 million price tag was used to denote entry into a rare club of auction record holders, the sales room barely applauded as five lots passed that mark, including “George Surratt”Lee Busuz, Ensemble (small version)” ($149 million with fees); Paul Cézanne’s 1888-90 Cubist precursor “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire” ($138 million); Van Gogh’s Green Scene of Arles, “Verger avec cyprès” ($117 million); and “Forest Birch” by Gustav Klimt in 1903 ($105 million).

Klimt’s sale broke the artist’s previous highest auction price: $88 million for “Portrait of Adele Bloch Power 2” in 2006, the same year he bought Allen Klimt for nearly $40 million.

Testifying to the apparent immunity to world events at the top of the art market, bids in the sale were strong in several pieces (there were four in Seurat). Some art experts said the lack of a potential political defeat in the marketplace in Tuesday’s election gave buyers more comfort to part with their cash for pretty pictures.

“People want to invest their money in hard assets,” said trader Nicholas MacLean of London and New York.

Allen Art Auction Who Die In 2018, it generated a level of excitement not usually seen in the often faltering art world. Among the usual suspects in the room—traders Larry Gagosian, David Zwerner, Amalia Dayan, and Joe Nehmed—was among those who flocked to the auction Christie’s owner, François-Henri Pinault, who sat in one of Heaven’s most secret chests. .

“We are seeing a very focused activity from collectors in response to rare masterpieces coming to market,” said distributor Dominic Levy. “Selling like this does not reflect the art market as a whole, but the desire for exceptional rare works. It is very important to understand the appearance of this unique legendary asset.”

The sale reached the billion dollar mark in Lot 32, a graceful stature for Alberto Giacometti”Wim de Venice III, which sold for $25 million for an estimate of $15-20 million. This development, however, was not announced by the auction. Those in the room were unaware that the art market had just made history.

About a quarter of the lots by value went to Asian buyers. “Buyers in Asia are very much alive,” Gagosian said. “When something is rare and wonderful, they are powerful.”

From the start, the first three pieces sold well above their estimates. Among these is Edward Steichen’s dark and haunted 1904 painting “Flatiron” showing the Flatiron Building in New York. At $12 million – four times the higher estimate – the auction put the artist even higher. It was the second highest price ever paid for a photograph, after Man Ray’s 1924 “Le Violon d’Ingres,” which sold for $12.4 million at Christie’s last May.

More than 20,000 people watched the group in advance, with lines up to two hours long running down Rockefeller Plaza in downtown. Previews like these often attract art lovers who are eager to see artworks before many of them disappear into private collections.

Collectors were eagerly anticipating the sale, not only for its record ratings but for the stellar range of works represented by the Allen Collection, which he started in the 1980s.

The artworks—more than 150 of which have arrived at Christie’s, 95 of which will be on display on Thursday’s sale day—span 500 years of history. They ranged from Botticelli’s classic “Madonna of the Magnificat” (mid-15th to early 16th century), which sold for $48 million at an estimated value of $40 million, to Wayne Thiebaud’s exotic confectionery collection, Café Carte (2012), which It sold for $6 million at an estimate of $3 million to $5 million.

A fiery abstract painting by Jasper Johns, “Small False Start,” included an early work from 1960, which sold for $55 million (estimate was $45 million to $65 million). Blues, reds, yellows and oranges broke the artist’s work $36 million recorded in 2014, For the flag plaque purchased by Alice Walton. “He tells the story of his relationship with the collage,” the art consultant said. Alan Schwartzman, who has a professional relationship with Allen’s property. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

The collection was filled with figurative works such as Edouard Manet’s painter’s shot of a rowing crane,”Le Grand Canal in Veniceand David HockneyConversation‘, which depicts moderator Henry Gildsler and writer Raymond Foy in tense conversation.

David Nash, who served as a technical advisor to Allen, said the tech mogul brought the same enthusiasm for buying paintings as he had for all of his other interests, which included sports teams, marine biology and brain research. “Maybe the Seurat painting is irreplaceable—and Van Gogh and Cézanne,” he said.

At the same time, some art experts said selling was a better measure of Allen’s buying ability than his unique aesthetic passion. “It’s like a tech brain—everything in amazing shape, bright colours, not too unobtrusive, not too sexual—like numbers or a computer guy would think of it; every one of them is a near-perfect example,” said trader and collector Adam Lindemann. That group says a lot about him. You can walk through it all and not have feelings for Paul Allen. It is very analytical and meticulous.”

On the other hand, Schwartzman, the art consultant, said he saw in the set “someone who had a very personal connection to the business he had bought.”

He added, “I find it touching that someone who has had such a huge impact on how the world works today also had such a strong and personal reaction to the artist and the hand.”

Allen was somewhat ahead of his time collecting works by women, including Agnes Martin, Louise Bourgeois, and Barbara Hepworth. On Wednesday, Georgia O’Keeffe’s “White Rose with Larkspur No. 1” sold for $27 million, more than four times the low estimate of $6 million.

Christie’s secured the entire sale, which means that the auction house has agreed to pay the lowest negotiated price for Allen’s property for the entire store. Christie, in turn, offset this risk by securing minimum bids on many lots from third parties—people who agreed to a purchase price up front, thus ensuring they could purchase the work if it did not exceed the guarantee.

All proceeds went to charity, as directed by Allen; His estate did not disclose the beneficiaries, perhaps to avoid alienating potential buyers who would not agree to charitable causes.

The high prices emphasized Allen’s distinct taste, as well as his eye for art he is likely to appreciate. In 2016, Gerhard Richter sold American fighter plane For $25.6 million, more than double the $11.2 million he paid a decade ago, and in 2014, he’s Sell ​​Mark Rothko’s painting For $56.1 million, he paid her $34.2 million in 2007.

“It was one of the best buyers on the market, without much competition,” said Amy Capilazo, senior advisor and former CEO of Auctions.

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