Sotheby’s will offer the only privately owned version of Edvard Munch’s masterpiece The Scream at an auction in New York on May 2, where it expects to fetch over $80 million, the highest pre-sale value the auctioneer has ever put on a work of art. The painting is owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father Thomas was a friend, neighbor and patron of Munch. There are four versions of the famous depiction of a figure facing out with its hands to its ears. It is also the only version still in its original frame hand-painted by the artist and includes his poem which explains his inspiration behind the work. The three others belong to Norwegian museum collections.
Simon Shaw, senior vice president and head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art department in New York, called the pastel-on-board creation one of the most important works of art in private hands. Given how rarely true icons come to the market it is difficult to predict The Scream’s value, he added in a statement. The auctioneer called The Scream one of the most instantly recognisable images in art and popular culture, second only perhaps to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
The other works of art which will go under the hammer include icons like the self-portrait of Edvard Munch, and also the famous Madonna, owned by billionaire Steven Cohen, both of which has the ever-common element of impressionism that the artist was known for. With the interest they have generated over the years, it would not be a surprise to see a record breaking bid for them.
A price tag of $80 million would be among the highest-ever for an artwork. According to Sotheby’s, a total of eight works have sold for $80 million or more at auction. The record is $106.5 million for Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, sold in 2010 by Christie’s in New York. [Sotheby’s]