Munch's 'The Scream' sells for record $120 million

NEW YORK Thu May 3, 2012 7:52am IST

An auctioneer takes bids for the sale of ''The Scream'' painted by Edvard Munch at Sotheby's in New York May 2, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Burton

An auctioneer takes bids for the sale of ''The Scream'' painted by Edvard Munch at Sotheby's in New York May 2, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Burton

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream," one of the world's most recognizable works of art, sold for $120 million at Sotheby's on Wednesday, setting a new record as the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction.

The sale at Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art auction featured other works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro, but Munch's vibrant piece was the centerpiece of the auction in a salesroom packed with collectors, bidders and the media.

The vibrant pastel from 1895 was conservatively estimated to sell for about $80 million at Sotheby's, but two determined bidders drove the final price to $107 million, or $119,922,500 including commission, during a 15-minute bidding war.

One of four versions by the Scandinavian painter, which was being sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, "The Scream" easily eclipsed the old auction record held by Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust," which went for $106.5 million at Christie's two years ago.

The sales room at Sotheby's erupted in applause and cheering when the hammer came down. The buyer, who won the auction via telephone bidding, was not identified by Sotheby's.

In recent decades "The Scream," a picture of a person with hands pressed to head against a backdrop of swirling vibrant colors, has become a ubiquitous image, appropriated for everything from coffee mugs to editorial cartoons. For many mainstream art lovers, it is perhaps second in familiarity only to the "Mona Lisa" and is certainly among the best-known works of art still in private hands.

Three other images of "The Scream," including two which were stolen and later recovered, are in museums in Norway.

Overall, the Sotheby's auction brought in $330.6 million and 80 percent of the lots on offer were sold. It was Sotheby's highest total ever for an Impressionist and Modern Art auction.

Picasso's "Femme assise dans un fauteuil" sold for $29.2 million, Miro's "Tete humaine" went under the hammer at $14.86 million and Dali's "Printemps necrophilique" was auctioned at $16.3 million. All those prices included sales commission.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

MOST BEAUTIFUL

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Foster Weds

Foster Weds

Jodie Foster marries girlfriend Alexandra Hedison.  Full Article 

Appeal Denied

Appeal Denied

Doctor convicted in Michael Jackson death denied latest appeal.  Full Article 

Chart Buster

Chart Buster

'Frozen' soundtrack notches biggest sales week, tops Billboard.  Full Article 

A Minute With

A Minute With

Sam Claflin on horror, heroes and 'Hunger Games'.  Full Article 

Bieber Sorry

Bieber Sorry

Justin Bieber apologises after Japan shrine visit sparks Asian anger.  Full Article 

Zeppelin Back

Zeppelin Back

Led Zeppelin is back with "Whole Lotta" unreleased tunes.  Full Article 

Online Streaming

Online Streaming

Amazon grabs rights to stream older HBO shows.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage