03 May 2012

The Scream sets auction record

A version of  Edvard Munch's "The Scream" has now become the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.  According to the San Fransisco Chronicle  it was sold at Sotheby's in New York City on Wednesday for a record $119,922,500. Neither the buyer's name nor any details about the buyer was released.

The previous record for an artwork sold at auction was $106.5 million for Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust," sold by Christie's in 2010.

Munch's image of a man holding his head and screaming under a streaked, blood-red sky is one of four versions by the Norwegian expressionist painter. The auctioned piece at Sotheby's is the only one left in private hands.

A buzz swept through the room when the artwork was presented for auction as two guards stood watch on either side. 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 record price includes the auction house's fee.

Sotheby's said the pastel-on-board version of "The Scream" is the most colorful and vibrant of the four and the only version whose frame was hand-painted by the artist to include his poem, detailing the work's inspiration.

In the poem, Munch described himself "shivering with anxiety" and said he felt "the great scream in nature."

Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and patron of the artist, said he sold the piece through Sotheby's because he felt "the moment has come to offer the rest of the world the chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work. I have lived with this work all my life, and its power and energy have only increased with time," Olsen said.

Proceeds from the sale will go toward the establishment of a new museum, art center and hotel in Hvitsten, Norway, where Olsen's father and Munch were neighbors.

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.
The most expensive painting ever sold was a version of Cezanne's  The Card Players which was sold privately last year to the Qatari royal family for somewhere between $250-300m.

Personally I hope that the version of The Scream is made available for public viewing. As for the seller I am glad that the proceeds will go to a new museum


Anonymous said...

Strange world. It's the bandwagon effect. While I quite like The Scream I have seen better and more evocative drawing from many a child. The face is laughable. Still, what do I know? Nothing, apparently

Claude said...

I know enough to know that I don't like it.

Strange world, indeed!

jams o donnell said...

Well there you have it!

CherryPie said...

I actually think the picture conveys it's title.

jams o donnell said...

It does indeed!