The Scream Sold For $119.9M US In Record Art Auction

CBC  |  Posted: 05/ 2/2012 9:17 pm Updated: 05/ 3/2012 9:37 am


Edvard Munch's The Scream, one of the world’s most recognizable images, has been sold at auction in New York for a record $119.9 million US, making it one of the most expensive works of art ever.


The buyer is unknown at this time, CBC's David Common reported from New York.


The bidding ended at the historic sum of $107 million. The collector, who bid by telephone, can be expected to pay additional auction house fees that should bring the final payment for the 1895 painting to just shy of $120 million, Common reported.


Sotheby’s had expected the painting would sell for more than $80 million US, but art experts agreed The Scream would likely draw a much higher price than that. Only a handful of paintings have ever been valued in the $100-million plus range at auction.


The image of a man holding his head and screaming under a blood-red sky has become a modern symbol for human anxiety, fear or suffering.


It is part of pop culture, "used by everyone from Warhol to Hollywood to cartoons to teacups and t-shirts to whatever else," said Michael Frahm of the London-based art advisory service firm Frahm Ltd.


Frahm predicted a new auction record would be set for The Scream.


"Together with the Mona Lisa, it's the most famous and recognized image in art history," he said.


The previous record auction price was set in 2010 when Pablo Picasso’s Nude, green leaves and bust sold at auction for $106.5 million. Two other paintings have also set high prices, Picasso’s Boy With a Pipe, which sold for $104.1 million and Alberto Giacometti's Walking Man I which sold for $104.3 million.


Sotheby's said earlier that only eight works have sold for $80 million or more at auction. Private sales have set even higher prices, with the royal family of Qatar buying Paul Cézanne’s The Card Player for an estimated $250 million.


Munch, a Norwegian Symbolist painter who lived 1863 to 1944, created four copies of The Scream, three of them now in Norwegian museums. The pastel on board sold at Sotheby’s was the only work in private hands.


Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and patron of the artist, sold the work to raise funds for a museum in Hvitsten, Norway, to house the rest of his father’s extensive art collection.


This version of The Scream is hand-painted by the artist with a poem in which Munch describes himself as "shivering with anxiety" and feeling "the great scream in nature."


The painting is one of a series Munch did reflecting on the extremes of human emotion, and it also has the distinction of being the most stolen painting in the world.


In 2004, masked gunmen made off with a version of The Scream in Oslo. It took two years to recover. A decade before that, there was another theft of a Scream in Stockholm, though investigtators were able to recover it several months later in a hotel room.


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Save the best (actor/actress) for last! Now they're onto a totally respectable Renoir lot, and for sure, people are slinking out the back.

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"The world record for any work of art sold at auction."

However! Stranger things happen behind closed doors. The most expensive work of art ever sold ever, is Cezanne's "The Card Players," which went in a private sale to the country of Qatar for $250 million. Gaze at that baby below.

2012-05-02-cezannecardplayers.jpg

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Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust," which sold for $106.5 million at auction

2012-05-02-nudegreenleavesandbust.jpg>

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It's anyone's guess now...

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"At $99 million, I have all the time in the world," the auctioneer quips.

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Some art historians speculate the "blood red" sky Munch said inspired "The Scream" resulted from the eruption on the volcanic island of Krakatoa, an atmospheric effect called “the Krakatoa twilights.”

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Approaching $100 mil folks...

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Passing $80 million!

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We're inching up to $80 mil, one of the estimated prices. $77 mil and counting...

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We're passing $60 mil now...

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"The Scream" is up! Bidding started at $40 mil.

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The version causing such a stir tonight is arguably the least valuable "Scream" of the bunch, as it's mounted onto a board rather than inside a grand frame (witness the NYTimes correction stating the point). It comes from the collection of Norwegian shipping heir Petter Olsen, whose dad Thomas was a neighbor and patron to Munch, according to the NYT.

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Chaim Soutine's "Le Chasseur de Chez Maxim's" sold for $8.3 million.

Picasso's "Baigneuse au Pouf Rouge and "Deux Femmes" sold for $2.4 million and $1.8 million, respectively.

And Francis Picabia's "Bal Negre" sold for $1.5 million.

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According to Monica Bohm-Duchen’s book "The Private Life Of A Masterpiece," the "Scream" thieves manning the 2004 heist “ran straight into a plate-glass sliding door,” while trying to enter the museum, before steadying themselves, waiting for the door to open and trying again. (They also went the wrong way once inside.)

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The prices are all over the place --

Picasso's "Femme Assise Dans un Fauteuil" sold for a whopping $26 million.

Fernand Leger's "La Femme Au Miroir" sold for $3,600,000.

George Rouault's "Arlequin" sold for a meager $480,000.

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Munch created four versions of "The Scream," the most colorful of which is up for auction tonight. Among the rest, two were stolen over the course of a decade, one out of the National Gallery in Oslo in 1994, and another from the Munch Museum in 2004.

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The Matisse that just sold for $2,500,000 looks like a clean coloring book page, in the most brilliant possible way.

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Toulouse-Latrec lot sold for $520,000, pocket change next to "The Scream"! We're on to Matisse...

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Honore Daumier went for $160,000, and a lot of Henre de Toulouse-Latrec is next on the line. Head to Sotheby's livestream to follow along with us!

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@ hannahtpsky : This is the auction room where #TheScream is about to go on sale. Outside investors sip champagne and wear black. http://t.co/w1eGSffl

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HuffPost TV editor Alex Moaba got a peek at "The Scream" earlier this week, and we have it on his word that the colors are neon-like, "psychedelic" you might say (he does)!

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Fun fact #1: This Inca mummy may have been the inspiration for "The Scream":

2012-05-02-mummy1.jpg

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Filed by Christian Cotroneo  |