Here are the 10 biggest art purchases by US billionaires. Will Paul Allen’s collection make the list?

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The art collection of the late billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is estimated to be in the tens of thousands when auctioned over two days at Christie’s on Wednesday and Thursday, and will be one less Impressionist painting from the 19th century than what these 10 paintings sold for, the largest All-time art purchases by US billionaires.

Important facts

1 and 2. Citadel founder Ken Griffin paid $300 million for Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange” in 2016, according to CNN, and reportedly bought the painting from fellow billionaire David Geffen, along with a $200 million painting by Jackson Pollock, “Number 17A” (The paintings, accounting for inflation would be worth about $375.5 million and $250 million today, respectively).

3. Griffin also reportedly bought “Orange Marilyn,” one of Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe, in a 2017 private sale for about $200 million from the collection of the late publishing billionaire SI Newhouse Jr., according to the New York Times (Warhol’s portrait of Monroe would be worth about $242 million today).

4th, 5th and 6. Hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen bought “Woman III” from de Kooning in a private sale in 2006 for $137.5 million, according to the New York Timesand also took home Roy Lichtenstein’s “Masterpiece” for $165 million in 2017 and “Le Rêve” by Pablo Picasso for $155 million in 2013, the newspaper reported (The de Kooning would be worth $242 million today, The Lichenstein nearly $200 million and the Picasso $213.7 million).

7. Elaine Wynn, the ex-wife of hotel magnate Steve Wynn, bought Francis Bacon’s triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freud for $142.4 million in 2013, which was then the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction New York Times (the triptych would cost $171.9 million in 2022).

8th. According to Cohen, Cohen also acquired “Flag” from Jasper Johns for approximately $110.0 million in a private sale in 2010 The New York Times (currently valued at approximately $163.6 million).

9. Apollo Global Management co-founder Leon Black spent nearly $120 million on one of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” pastels in 2012, which he also said set an auction record Wall Street Journal ($155 million today).

10 In 2006, cosmetics mogul Ronald Lauder bought Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I for Neue Galerie, the museum he co-founded in 2001, for an alleged $135 million New York Times ($154.8 million today).


Art dealer Larry Gagosian acquired a portrait of Monroe from the same series as Orange Marilyn in May for $195 million, making it the most expensive work by an American artist ever sold at auction. It’s still unconfirmed whether Gagosian bought the record-breaking painting for himself or one of his billionaire clients, who include many of the collectors on this list.

key background

In August, the auction house Christie’s announced that it would sell the art collection of Allen, who died in 2018. The 150 works are expected to fetch over $1 billion, which would make the collection the most valuable single-owner group ever to be auctioned. Allen’s collection, which was kept secret during his lifetime, spans 500 years of art history and includes artworks by some of the world’s most renowned artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe and David Hockney. Works at auction include Georges Seurat’s 1888 Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version), estimated at more than $100 million, and Gustav Klimt’s Birch Forest, estimated at more than $90 million. The collection will be auctioned in New York over two evenings in November.

Big number

$922.2 million. That’s the record for most valuable art collection at auction, first set in May, when artworks collected by Manhattan real estate mogul Harry Macklowe and his former wife Linda during their six-decade marriage, in two auctions totaling $922.2 million were sold. The two share the proceeds. The most expensive artwork sold from the collection was Mark Rothko’s “No. 7,” which fetched $82.5 million, the second-highest price ever for a piece by the artist at auction.

Further reading

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s billion-dollar art collection goes on sale in what could be the biggest art auction everforbes)

Real estate mogul Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife Linda’s art collection brings in record-breaking $922.2 million (forbes)


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