The only privately-owned version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” will go on show in London at Sotheby’s for a week prior to it being put up for auction in New York where it is expected to fetch $80 million.
The classic pastel masterpiece featuring a haunted figure in front of a red backdrop will go on display in London for the first time. Following the display, one of the world’s most recognizable pieces of art will be put up for auction at the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in New York on May 2, where it is expected to go for $80 million. If sold at that price, or more, “The Scream” will be one of the most expensive art works to be sold at auction. Currently, Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Busy holds the record after selling for $106 million at Christie’s New York in May 2010.
Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father happened to be a friend and patron of Munch, is currently the private owner of “The Scream” in question. Created in 1885, the piece is also one of only four versions created by Munch and is the only version with a frame hand-painted by Munch which includes a poem explaining his inspiration for the piece. It is also the only version where one of the two figures in the background of the painting turns to look outward into the cityscape. Two other versions of “The Scream” are held at The Munch Museum in Oslo while the third is displayed at the National Museum Gallery in Norway.
Olsen said, ”I have lived with this work all my life, and its power and energy have only increased with time. Now, however, I feel the moment has come to offer the rest of the world a chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work, which is the only version of The Scream not in the collection of a Norwegian museum. My father Thomas Olsen was a friend of Munch, and acquired The Scream as well as many other works by the artist. He hoped that his collection would further Munch’s international renown by lending to exhibitions abroad.”
According to Olsen, proceeds from the sale will go toward establishing a new museum, art center and hotel on his farm. The museum is expected to open in 2013, 150 years after Munch passed away.
Senior director at Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art department, Philip Hook, said, “This is the first time this picture has ever been on view in the United Kingdom and it hasn’t been on show anywhere since 1979 so it’s a very special thing for Sotheby’s to be able to show people.”