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

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

Cinema

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Movie Review

Movie Review

Farah Khan brings back SRK, self-deprecating jokes, six-pack abs and lots of bling.  Full Article 

La Renta's Funeral

La Renta's Funeral

Designer Oscar de la Renta's funeral to be private New York affair.  Full Article 

Stratospheric Career

Stratospheric Career

Matthew McConaughey enjoying his 'Interstellar' career heights.  Full Article 

Horror Role

Horror Role

From 'Bates Motel' to 'Ouija,' Olivia Cooke finds breakout in horror.  Full Article 

Debut Tweet

Debut Tweet

Britain's Queen Elizabeth sends her first tweet.  Full Article 

Job Hunting

Job Hunting

Rebekah Brooks in New York 'explores' job opportunities.  Full Article 

"John Wick"

"John Wick"

Actor Keanu Reeves returns to the dark side in 'John Wick'.  Full Article 

For A Cause

For A Cause

Elton John joins with U.S. agencies on new AIDS programme.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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