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Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' sells for $119.9 million at Sotheby's NYC auction


Madeline Wilson from the National Gallery of Victoria mimics the scream from Edvard Munch's famous hand-coloured lithograph version of 'The Scream.'


William West

Edvard Munch's "The Scream" has sold for a record $119,922,500 at a Sotheby's auction in New York City.

The 1895 painting — a modern symbol of human anxiety depicting a man holding his head and screaming under a streaked, blood-red sky  — is one of the art world's most recognizable images.

The painting was one of four versions by the Norwegian expressionist painter and the only one left in private hands, according to the Associated Press.

It was owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and patron of the artist.

According to the AP, he 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."

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The Munch Museum in Oslo owns a pastel "Scream" as well as a painted version, while the National Gallery of Norway holds the earliest version, dated 1893, according to the LA Times.

Previously, the most-expensive painting sold at auction was Picasso's 1932 “Nude, Green, Leave and Bust," which went in 2010 for $106.5 million.

The anonymous buyer was bidding by phone during a 12-minute auction involving at least 5 bidders, with bidding starting at $40 million, the Times wrote.

The Qatar royal family had reportedly showed interest before the sale, it added.

According to the AP, the proceeds from Wednesday's sale will go toward the establishment of a museum, art center and hotel in Norway.

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