A Season of Giving

November and December mark a season of gift giving and charity. This season however, the charity of the inspiring Paul Allen is an outlier worth taking note of.

Georges Seurat’s “Les Poseuses Ensemble (Petite version)” (1888) being auctioned during the Paul Allen sale at Christie’s in New York. Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Paul Allen was the co-founder of Microsoft, who took pride in the role he played making technology more accessible and useful to people everywhere. His life was marked by extraordinary career accomplishments, and a deep sensibility to philanthropic causes.

During his life he contributed $2.65 Billion to help save endangered species, deepen our understanding of climate science, improve ocean health, develop new technologies, create museums, tackle epidemics, research how the human brain works, and invest in sustainable communities. 

Allen died in 2018, and his art collection went to auction this past month, with profit earmarked for charity. This auction of 60 works from his estate hit the block at Christie’s in the most valuable single-owner sale ever, taking in a historic $1.5 Billion.

Pursuant to Mr. Allen’s wishes, the estate will dedicate its proceeds from the landmark series of sales, totalling $1,622,249,500, to philanthropy.

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), La Montagne Sainte-Victoire, 1888-1890. Oil on canvas. 25⅝ x 31⅞ in (65.2 x 81.2 cm). Sold for $137,790,000 in Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection Part I on 9 November 2022 at Christie’s in New York

The top lot of the collection was Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version) by Georges Seurat, which sold for $149,240,000. The sale of the painting marks the highest price ever achieved for any Impressionist or Post-Impressionist work of art.

Of the evening sale, Max Carter, Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, said, ‘Never before have more than two paintings exceeded $100 million in a single sale, but tonight we saw five. Four were masterpieces from the fathers of modernism — Cezanne, Seurat, Van Gogh and Gauguin.’

‘The room tonight was extremely special, and we were joined by colleagues from around the world, demonstrating the global demand of this once-in-a-lifetime collection,’ added Johanna Flaum, Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art.

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Paul Allen’s Auction was a historic testament to philanthropy, and the value of great works of art in society.

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