One of the most iconic images in art history – by Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch – “The Scream” has been sold at Sotheby’s for a record $119,922,500. This made it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.
Munch’s image of a man holding his head and screaming under a streaked, blood-red sky is one of four versions created by the painter. The piece at Sotheby’s is the only one left in private hands and was provided for the auction by Petter Olsen, whose father was Munch’s friend.
Bidding started at $40 million with seven buyers jumping into the competition early. The battle eventually boiled down to two phone bidders as the historic hammer price was finally achieved after more than 12 minutes.
The image has become one of the most famous and recognized images in art history. “As popular culture, it provides an analogy for both individual and collective experiences of, variously, loss, pain, grief, modernity, nature gone awry, the body out of control, and Existential struggle,” said Patricia Berman, a director of the Edvard Munch Research Institute in Oslo.
Besides “The Scream” and Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust,” only two other works have sold for more than $100 million at auction. Those are Picasso’s “Boy With a Pipe (The Young Apprentice)” for $104.1 million in 2004 and Alberto Giacometti’s “Walking Man I” for $104.3 million in 2010.