Finally, the mystery about purchaser of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, who paid $120 million for it in May at Sotheby’s auction, is now solved. And, according to The Wall Street Journal, proud buyer is Leon Black, New York billionaire, chairman and founder of Apollo Global Management LLC.
Mr Black came out as a winner from the dramatic and much-anticipated 12-minutes auction and set the record for the biggest sum fetched by an art piece in auction. Also, it’s been reported that another avid art collector, billionaire Steven A. Cohen was one of other interested telephone bidders.
Kelly Crow, the Journal reporter who broke the news, remarked about how the mystery was solved to WSJ Live: “It takes a little while for collectors to start whispering to their friends, ‘Hey I bought the most expensive piece of art ever.’” Crow, for her part, had mused to PBS after the purchase in May that a $120 million painting would be a better way to spend your money than a similarly priced yacht.
Black purchased one of the four versions (three paintings and one pastel) of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, created between 1893 and 1910. The pastel version is the first to come up at auction and has never been displayed in the UK or the U.S. before – except briefly in the National Gallery in Washington D.C. decades ago. It is distinguished in several ways: it is the most colorful and vibrant of the four, the only version whose original frame was hand-painted by the artist to include his poem detailing the work’s inspiration and the only version where the men in the background are looking out to sea.
Black, whose fortune Forbes estimated to be worth $3.4 billion is an avid art collector. He already owns a $750 million collection of art, including drawings by Vincent van Gogh and Raphael, cubist paintings by Picasso and watercolors by J.M.W. Turner. Three years ago, he paid Christie’s $47.6 million for a Raphael chalk drawing, “Head of a Muse,” a record auction price at the time for a work on paper.