“The Scream” will be on the block at Sotheby’s on May 2nd as the highlight of the Impressionist and modern evening sale in New York. Experts have estimated that the work will fetch more than 80 million- it is the highest presale figure the auction house has ever set.
The event marks a rare opportunity for Sotheby’s. Top clients have visited the picture privately. Sotheby’s sent the work to multiple private homes in Asia, North America and Europe so key clients could test whether the haunting image clashed with the rest of their art collections. The piece was even removed from its frame for a serious contender who wanted to stare at the work nose-to-nose.
Certain international collectors have been surrounded by buzz. Among them, Geneva-based billionaire Lily Safra, who spent 104.3 million for Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture, “Walking Man I,” or American cosmetics executive Ronald Lauder, who paid 135 million in the private acquisition of Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I” for his New York museum, according to the Wall Street Journal. Art-industry experts hypothesize that “The Scream” would more likely draw interest from clients with broad taste in blockbuster art.
The Wall Street Journal describes the painting as an “androgynous wraith grasping its cheeks in dread along an Oslo fiord.” Created by the Nowegian artist Munch in 1895, the painted is famous for the pop-culture parodies it has inspired as well as its artistry. The work being auctioned by Sotheby’s is one of four versions created, and the only one not in an Oslo museum.
More than 7,500 people viewed the piece last month over five days at Sotheby’s in London. Extensive precautions have been taken; during the public viewing the artwork sat under glass 7 feet behind stanchions, watched by security guards. Even at private reception for collectors, Sotheby’s took the careful step of confiscating viewers champagne before allowing them to approach the work.
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Update: Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ was sold to an anonymous buyer for $119.9 million.