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'The Scream' brings $119.9M, sets auction record

May 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Edvard Munch's iconic image "The Scream" has become the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

The 1895 artwork was sold at Sotheby's Thursday night in New York City for $119,922,500. Bidding started at $40 million with seven buyers jumping into the competition early. The battle eventually boiled down to two phone bidders, and the final price was reached after 12 intense minutes.

The image of a man holding his head and screaming under a streaked, blood-red sky has become part of pop culture. Munch painted four versions of the piece. The one auctioned Thursday is the only one still in private hands.

The buyer is remaining anonymous.

The previous record for an artwork sold at auction was $106.5 million for Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust," sold by Christie's in 2010.

Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and patron of the artist, said he sold the piece because he felt "the moment has come to offer the rest of the world the chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work."

Proceeds from the sale will go toward the establishment of a new museum, art center and hotel in Hvitsten, Norway, where Olsen's father and Munch were neighbors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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