A Scream of a Deal: Edvard Munch’s Masterpiece Sold for $120 Million

In times of great economic hardship and cringe-worthy unemployment numbers, there will always still be people who laugh in the face of recession. “Crisis? What crisis? I’m gonna go buy a priceless work of art now, bye.”

Okay, so that’s probably not quite how it happened, but nevertheless, one of four versions of Edvard Munch’s classic expressionist pastel work, The Scream, was sold for $119.9 million at Sotheby’s today, shattering previous art-auction records. The victor of the five international bidders won via a telephone bid, competing primarily with four other bidders making offers in English, Chinese and according to reports, Norwegian.

This version, one of four, was sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, and was a particularly coveted version of the painting due to the presence of a handwritten poem from Munch, whose lines include: “Fjord and City hung Blood and Tongues of Fire / My Friends walked on — I remained behind / — shivering with Anxiety — I felt the great Scream in Nature.” Great conversation starter to have in your living room, right?

The previous auction record was held by a Picasso work entitled “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” which sold for $106.5 million at Christie’s.

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