Visionary: Art in Science, Elegance in Computer Code, and Truth in Nature

Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection auctioned by Christie’s

I know I have been making a lot of references to getting back from an overseas trip in the last 2 weeks, but I feel like I have come back to a City that has so much going on that it is tough to keep up! For instance, last week I walked past Christie’s on my way to work, and saw this fantastic piece of art positioned outside it, and significant art being showcased in their windows –

I walked on to Rockefeller Center, and saw that all the flags were also Christie’s, along with this show called Visionary that I now felt compelled to learn more about.

So I reseached it, found out that it was Paul G. Allen’s collection that was being auctioned by Christie’s, and that I had all of a day and a half to visit before the auction. I had no idea that the Microsoft co-founder was such a big art collector! As luck would have it, I had about 30 minutes between meetings that day and got a chance to visit this fantastic collection before it was auctioned off for a grand total of $1.6B over 2 days, making it the biggest auction ever, with all proceeds being donated to philanthropic causes.

Walking in, there was palpable excitement in the air, and it really was a treat to experience the art up close as one can do before an auction, it really is quite unlike seeing the art in a museum.

As Paul G. Allen said – I see art in science, elegance in computer code, and truth in nature….I’m always looking for connections between different topics that aren’t necessarily obvious, but that might help us see our world differently, or understand it better.

There were screens where visitors could experience “500 years of art history” in the collection, which I did not have time enough to do unfortunately.

And now, moving on to the art itself, the piece outside Christie’s that first caught my attention called Typewriter, Eraser, Scale X by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen sold for $8.4M!! Wow!

There were a lot of records set at the auction, such as this Georges Seurat titled Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version) painted in 1888 sold for $149M. There were just too many people in front of this piece to get a better picture unfortunately.

The same was the case with this Paul Cezanne called La Montage Sainte-Victoire from 1888-1890, which sold for $137.7M. You can see the shadows of all the people that were crowded around this painiting on the wall.

This piece by Andrew Wyeth called Day Dream from 1980 was exquisite in its detail, and sold for $23M

This Paul Gauguin titled Maternite II painted in 1899 sold for over $105M. It must be nice to have this kind of pocket change to buy these pieces!

I love David Hockney, and this piece titled Four Different Kinds of Water sold for $6M.

This piece by Georgia O’Keeffe sold for $26.7M, which was over 3 times the estimate.

And this Klimt sold for $104.5M!!! Clearly my pictures are not doing any of these paintings justice.

Here is some of the other art from the collection –

Here is what it was like to experience the art, it was as accessible as if it was in someone’s living room –

There were a lot more pieces, but you get the idea. Paul Allen was truly a Visionary in building his art collection. I wish I had more time to soak it in, but I am just happy that I got a chance to experience it at all.

I also stumbled onto the preview for the 21st Century Evening Auction during this visit to Christie’s, which you can read about here.

It truly is amazing to experience all the art that NYC has to offer!


Hanit GyaniAuthor posts

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Hi, I'm Hanit Gyani, a full time professional by day and a blogger by night and weekend. Welcome to my blog, aka my passion project, Gotta Love New York.


  • Wow- fantastic story! I love the excitement of an auction, and Christie’s is top-notch. Your blog took me back to my youth in the 1970s, our family would attend hokey country auctions upstate in the Catskills, but exciting just the same!

  • Thank you!!! I love going to Christie’s, though it would have been even more exciting to be there for the actual auction. I did get the opportunity to view the art for another auction that happened this week, stay tuned for that blog post.

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