One of the art world’s most recognisable images — Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” — sold Wednesday for a record $119,922,500 at auction in New York City. To mere mortals it hardly seemed like a bargain but someone, somewhere, last night decided that owning a rare version of Edvard Munch’s iconic 1895 artwork The Scream was worth shelling out an eye-watering 119.9 million dollars.
The price, one of the highest ever paid for a work of art and the highest for one bought at an open auction, came after just 12 minutes of bidding and was won by a so-far anonymous telephone bidder. Neither the buyer’s name nor any details about the buyer was released.
The intense interest in the paining is mostly due to its huge stature in both the art world and in global popular culture. The 1895 painting, which is one of only four versions of the work in existence and widely seen as the best one, is one of a handful of artistic images that have crossed over from the world of high art to popular culture.
Now The Scream will join a select group of works that have sold for more than a 100 million dollars, including Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust which sold in 2010 Christie’s for 106.5 million dollars. Yet even that hefty price tag feels like a snip compared to the staggering 250 million dollars paid by oil-rich Qatar to snag Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players for a new art museum. Details of that deal only emerged earlier this year, but it was struck in 2011.