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‘The Scream’ Sells for $119.9 Million at Sotheby’s
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Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream,’ possibly the most recognizable pieces of art in the world, sold for a record $119,922,500 at an auction Wednesday night in New York City. The painting is from 1895 and it was sold at Sotheby’s. The name of the buyer was not released to the public. The record broken on Wednesday was previously held by Picasso’s ‘Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust,’ which was sold in 2010 by Christie’s for $106.5 million.

The painting is of a man who is holding his head while screaming underneath a blood-red, streaky sky. The painting is one of only four versions created by Munch, who is Norwegian and an expressionist painter. The piece auctioned off on Wednesday night is the only one remining in private hands.


Michael Frahm, from Frahm Ltd, said, “It is used by everyone from Warhol to Hollywood to cartoons to teacups and T-shirts.”Together with the Mona Lisa it’s the most famous and recognized image in art history.”

The bidding for the piece began at $40 million as seven buyers immediately jumped into the fray. The competition fizzled to only two bidders, both placing bids on the phone. When all was said and done, it took 12 minutes to reach the winning bid, which includes the fee from the auction house. Sotheby’s said that their version of the painting is the most vibrant and colorful of all four versions. Sotheby’s also said that it is the only version that has a hand-painted frame by Munch that includes his poem, which details the inspiration for the painting. Munch described himself in the poem as ‘shivering with anxiety’ and said he could feel ‘the great scream in nature.’

Petter Olsen, a businessman from Norway, said his father was a patron and a friend of Munch. He said it was time to sell the piece because “the moment has come to offer the rest of the world the chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work. I have lived with this work all my life, and its power and energy have only increased with time.”

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The proceeds from the sale of the painting will be put towards establishing a new museum, art center and hotel in Hvitsten, Norway. This is where Olsen’s father and Munch lived as neighbors.

Simon Shaw, a member of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department, said, “If ever there was a work of art of true shock-and-awe, it was Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream.'”

Only two other pieces of art have sold for more than $100 million aside from ‘The Scream’ and ‘Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust.’ Those other two pieces are Picasso’s ‘Boy with a Pipe (The Young Apprentice)’ for $104.1 million and Alberto Giacometti’s ‘Walking Man I’ for $104.3 million.


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