Paul Allen: Record-breaking $1.5bn art sale for late Microsoft co-founder's collection

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Gustav Klimt's Birch ForestImage source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Gustav Klimt's Birch Forest was sold as part of the auction

By Daniel Rosney

Entertainment reporter

Paintings and sculptures owned by late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen have been sold for a record $1.5bn (£1.3bn).

It was the largest art auction in history, according to Christie's.

The auction house said works by Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cezanne and Gustav Klimt each sold for more than $100m (£88m), breaking individual records for those artists.

The proceeds from the sale will be donated to charities supported by Allen before his death in 2018.

The most expensive piece of art bought was Seurat's 1888 work Les Poseuses, Ensemble (small version), a renowned work of pointillism, which fetched $149.2m (£131m), including fees, Christie's said.

Experts say the super wealthy are viewing art as a safe investment amid a tumultuous global economy and Russia's war in Ukraine.

Other record-breaking works included Van Gough's Orchard with Cypresses, which fetched $117.2m (£103m); Gauguin's Maternity II, which sold for $105.7m (£93m); and Klimt's Birch Forest, which went under the hammer for $104.6m (£92m).

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Paul Allen set up a foundation while he was alive, donating hundreds of millions

The total value of the collection has already beaten the record set earlier this year, for the Macklowe collection, collected by a wealthy New York couple - which sold for $922m (£810m).

Mr Allen co-founded Microsoft in 1975 with his childhood friend Bill Gates.

He was treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2009, but it returned, and in 2018 he died from complications of the disease.

In 2010, he pledged to leave the majority of his fortune to charity after his death. At the time he was the 37th richest man in the world, according to Forbes magazine, with an estimated $13.5bn (then £8.8bn).

A further 90 lots from his collection will be sold on Thursday.

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