An early 20th century painting depicting three nude figures by George Seurat from the collection of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen sold for $149 million an evening sale at Christie’s in New York Wednesday.
Titled Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version), the work is among the rarest paintings produced by Seurat residing in private hands and was expected to fetch a price over $100 million. Long before it came into Allen’s hands, the pointillist-style canvas was owned by John Quinn, the art collector and attorney who was an early promoter of the modern artist in the early 20th century.
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During tonight’s sale, Christie’s auctioneer Adrien Meyer opened bidding on the historic painting at $75 million. Drawing a total of four bidders between specialists representing clients from New York and Asia and another vying for the work in the room, and after a period of several minutes, the work hammered to Christie’s Asia chairman on a bid of $130 million, spurring applause in the room.
The painting sold for a final price of $149 million with fees.
The work last appeared on the public market when it sold at Christie’s in 1970, where it realized more than $1 million.
The price set a new benchmark at auction for the artist, whose previous record was set at $34 million for the painting La rade de Grandcamp (Le port de Grandcamp), 1885, which sold at Christie’s in 2018.