On May 2, 2012, a pastel version of “The Scream” by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch was sold for an astounding $119.9 million at a New York City auction, breaking the world record for the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction. The previous record was held by Pablo Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” which sold for $106.5 million in 2010.
“The Scream” is one of the most iconic and recognizable artworks in history, capturing a moment of existential anguish and representing the anxiety of modern life. Munch created four versions of the painting between 1893 and 1910, using different techniques such as oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard. The pastel version that broke the auction record was the only one still in private hands, and it had rarely been seen in public before the sale.
The auction took place at Sotheby’s in New York City and attracted collectors and art enthusiasts from around the world. The bidding war for “The Scream” lasted for over 12 minutes, with the final bid coming from an anonymous buyer via telephone. The sale of this masterpiece not only set a new benchmark for art auction prices, but also underscored the growing appetite for high-quality and rare art among global collectors.
Munch’s “The Scream” stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of iconic artworks and the continued growth of the global art market. The record-breaking auction highlighted the increasingly competitive nature of art collecting and the astronomical prices that collectors are willing to pay for masterpieces that define the cultural and artistic heritage of humanity.