Munch’s “Scream” Sells For $120 Million

Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” sold for a record $120m at auction on Wednesday at Sotheby’s in New York, far exceeding pre-sales estimates of about $80m. The vibrant piece from 1895, the most famous art work in the world still in private hands, went under the hammer at Sotheby’s impressionist and modern art auction, where clients and press packed the salesroom for the much-anticipated sale. Bidding started at about $50m for the work, one of four versions by the Scandinavian painter being sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, and lasted 15 minutes before an unnamed telephone bidder gave the final offer of $119,922,500, including commission. The sales room at Sotheby’s erupted in applause and cheering. Honestly, I thought it would go for more.

The previous record for the most expensive work of art sold at auction had been held by Picasso‘s “Nude,” green leaves and bust, which went for $106.5m at Christie’s two years ago.

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