One of the most recognised artistic masterpieces in history has sold for a record breaking price of $119.9 million at auction. It has now become the most expensive piece of artwork to be sold at auction. The piece was bought by a telephone bidder who will remain anonymous.
The hammer came down at the auction at Sotheby’s in New York, and it surpasses the previous record which was held by Pablo Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust. In May 2010, this piece was sold for $106 million at the auction held at Christie’s in New York.
Ten minutes of bidding
Before the auction there were hints that The Scream would sell for more than $80 million, with the auction house hoping that it would smash the current record. Sotheby’s would have been very happy with the price that it finally sold for, putting them firmly in the spotlight once again for high a profile and record breaking sale. The auction house only recently sold a rare royal diamond.
On Wednesday night last week in New York, The Scream was finally sold. The price started at $40 million, which was followed by ten minutes of bidding from interested potential buyers. The battle was between two telephone bidders, who went head to head once the price had increased to $80 million.
There was a chance that the artwork was going to sell for $105 million, but there was a late intervention. Bidding then resumed at $107 million, and when the buyer’s premium was included the total amount grew to $119,922,500.
The haunting artwork was put on the market by its Norwegian owner, Petter Olsen, who is a businessman. His family once knew Edvard Munch, and they have had the painting in their possession since the 1930s.
Best out of the four
In total there are four versions of The Scream, the other three kept safely in museums. Two had been stolen, but they were recovered. The version that was sold last week was the only one still in private ownership, and it is believed to be the most sought after of all four.
The reason that so much attention has been given to this version is because it contains a poem about the work on the frame, that was written by the artist himself.
The painting has had a strong cultural influence after it inspired tributes from artists such as Andy Warhol. It also gave rise to the Scream horror films, the first of which made an international gross of $172,363,301.