The $120 Million Scream

Photo: Sotheby's

Photo: Sotheby's

Is any painting worth $120,000,000? If you believe that auctions set the fair value of art, then the answer would appear to be yes, as reported below by AP via San Jose Mercury News. (As an aside, there’s an interesting piece at VICE UK entitled ‘I’m Sick Of Pretending: I Don’t “Get” Art’.)

It’s a scream that’s still reverberating around the world.

One of the most iconic images in art history—Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”—has become the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

During an intense 12 minutes, the 1895 artwork—a modern symbol of human anxiety—was sold at Sotheby’s in New York City on Wednesday for a record $119,922,500. Neither the buyer’s name nor any details about the buyer was released.

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.

Munch’s image of a man holding his head and screaming under a streaked, blood-red sky is one of four versions by the Norwegian expressionist painter. The auctioned piece at Sotheby’s is the only one left in private hands…

[continues at AP via San Jose Mercury News]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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  • Heath
  • Liam_McGonagle

    Fairly ironic that a cry for help by a socially alienated schizotypal artist should be turned into a totem of plutocracy by a descendant of one of that artist’s patrons.  But there you have it.

    Also, I hope that guy knows that what he bought was NOT “the” The Scream.  In fact there is no single definitive version from which all the others are merely copies or variations.  Munch created a number of differing works on this theme and with this title in alternate media whose chronology is not entirely certain.  This was just one of them.

  • Red Herring

    One Percent Problems …

    • Liam_McGonagle

      Uh-nuh–no you did NOT go there!

      As Derrida showed us, any value-laden proposition automatically evokes the articulation of an opposing proposition:  “The One Percent Solution”.  Smacks vaguely of euthenasia, does it not?

      I like.  Ambiguous, disturbing, possibly sinister.  You’ve let the genie out of the bottle.

      • Jin The Ninja

        you’d get a like just for mentioning dear old jacques. nevermind i (100%) agree.

  • Mrtchops

    bullshit status symbol stuff..
    nothing against the artist or the creative process, but wtf?
    as the platitude goes, more money than sense…