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'The Scream' fetches record $119.9M at NYC auction

Edvard Munch’s The Scream is auctioned at Sotheby’s on Wednesday in New York. It is one of four versions created by the Norwegian expressionist painter and the only one still in private hands.

Associated Press

Edvard Munch’s The Scream is auctioned at Sotheby’s on Wednesday in New York. It is one of four versions created by the Norwegian expressionist painter and the only one still in private hands.

NEW YORK — One of the art world's most recognizable images — Edvard Munch's The Scream — sold at auction Wednesday for a record $119,922,500.

The 1895 artwork — a modern symbol of human anxiety — was sold at Sotheby's. The buyer's name was not 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. Bidding started at $40 million with seven buyers jumping into the competition. The battle boiled down to two phone bidders and the historic hammer price was achieved after more than 12 minutes.

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.

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."

'The Scream' fetches record $119.9M at NYC auction 05/03/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 12:30am]
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