The sculpture of a typewriter eraser once displayed outside of the Museum of Pop Culture and the Olympic Sculpture Park sold for $8.4 million Thursday morning at Christie’s New York. 

It was the highest bid of the day.

The Paul G. Allen Family Collection sale, which totaled $1.6 billion, is the biggest in auction history. Representing more than five centuries of art, all of Allen’s 150 artworks were sold in the two-day auction.

As directed by Allen, Christie’s will dedicate all the proceeds of the sale to philanthropy. Allen, a Seattle-born magnate, was the co-founder of Microsoft. He died in 2018. 

The collection had an estimated value of $1 billion before the auction began Wednesday in New York. Sales hit that mark with the first 32 items.

Five paintings sold for a record of more than $100 million each. Only two paintings had ever exceeded that amount in a single sale. 


The highest-valued artworks were Georges Seurat’s “Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version),” which sold for $149 million; Paul Cézanne’s “La Montagne Sainte-Victoire” ($138 million); Vincent van Gogh’s verdant scene of Arles, “Verger avec cyprès” ($117 million); and Gustav Klimt’s 1903 autumnal “Birch Forest” ($105 million).

“We were joined by colleagues from around the world, demonstrating the global demand of this once-in-a-lifetime collection,” Johanna Flaum, Christie’s vice chair, 20th and 21st Century Art, said in a statement. The names of the buyers were not made public.

Allen and his sister, Jody Allen, who is executor of his estate, first loaned the eraser sculpture to the Seattle Art Museum’s waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park in 2006. The Allens’ investment company, Vulcan, moved the art to Seattle Center a decade later.

Vulcan has commissioned public artworks throughout Seattle. Several pieces are displayed outside of Amazon office buildings in South Lake Union. Three are outside of the Jackson Apartments, a Vulcan-owned property in the Central District.

The Allens founded MoPOP under the name Experience Music Project in 2000. Paul Allen displayed pieces from his music collection there, such as Jimi Hendrix’s guitars, as well as items from his vast store of science fiction and movie memorabilia.

The typewriter eraser sculpture resided outside of MoPOP for years. In October, it was moved to New York and displayed outside of Christie’s at Rockefeller Center.

Artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, who were married, created the whimsical piece in 1999. The pair made pop art public monuments based on common objects, such as the now-obsolete typewriter eraser.