Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Scream" Sale to Finance New Museum

"The Scream" by Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch is one of the most recognizable works of art in the world. And now it's also the highest priced. Last night a pastel version of the picture was sold at Sotheby's for a record-breaking $120 million—the most ever paid in an auction for a piece of art.

According to Norwegian newpaper VG, the first use of the iconic image appeared just three years after it was created, in a May 1, 1898 edition of Social-Demokraten, the newspaper of the Labor party. Over time, it seems the angst-filled appeal of Munch's work has resonated with the public. Fast forward 114 years and the image is as well-known as di Vinci's "Mona Lisa," available on everything from t-shirts to refrigerator magnets.

Five bidders competed in the 12-minute auction, with the purchaser—who is yet unnamed—making the winning bid over the telephone. The the last privately-owned version of the four made by Munch, the picture belonged to Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend of the artist. Olsen plans to use the proceeds of the sale to finance a new museum near his home south of Oslo. The museum will house his private collection of art by Munch and other artists. "I am looking forward to welcoming admirers of art from around the world from next year on," Olsen said in a statement on Southeby's website.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

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