NEW YORK, United States of America – The only privately owned version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” — one of the most recognizable paintings in history — set a world record Wednesday when it sold for US$119.9 million at Sotheby’s in New York.
Heated competition between seven bidders took the price to the highest for a work of art at auction in just 12 minutes, sparking applause.
The previous record was held by Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust,” which sold in 2010 for $106.5 million.
“The Scream” is one of four versions of a work that — with its nightmarish central figure and lurid colors — symbolized the existential angst and despair of the modern age.
It was sold by Norwegian Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and supporter of the artist. He plans to establish a new museum in Norway.
On two occasions, other versions of the painting have been stolen from museums, although both were recovered. Copies have adorned everything from student dorms to tea mugs and the work has the rare quality of being known equally to art experts and the general public alike.
Simon Shaw, head of the Impressionist and modern department at Sotheby’s, said: “This is one of the very few images which transcends art history and reaches a global consciousness.”
Reflecting the excitement, Sotheby’s spokesman Darrell Rocha said there had been an “electric” atmosphere.
“A group of seven bidders jumped into the competition early, but it was a prolonged battle between two highly determined phone bidders that carried the final selling price to its historic level,” he said. – Agence France-Presse
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