Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' to fetch $80m at auction
The only privately owned version of Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' could fetch more than $80m later this year when it is put up for auction.
The 1895 work is owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father Thomas was a friend, neighbour and patron of Munch, Sotheby's said on Tuesday.
There are four versions of the famous depiction of a figure facing out with its hands to its ears apparently screaming. The three others belong to Norwegian museum collections.
Simon Shaw, senior vice president and head of Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art department in New York, called the pastel-on-board creation "one of the most important works of art in private hands.
"Given how rarely true icons come to the market it is difficult to predict The Scream's value," he added in a statement. "The recent success of masterpieces at Sotheby's suggests that the price could exceed $80m."
The auctioneer called The Scream one of the most instantly recognisable images in art and popular culture, second only perhaps to Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa".
It also said the version on offer at its impressionist and modern art evening auction was the "most colourful and vibrant" of the four images and the only one in which one of the figures in the background turns to look at the cityscape.
The work also features a hand-painted inscription on its frame in which Munch explains his motivation for image. It includes the lines "My Friends walked on-I remained behind/shivering with Anxiety-I felt the great Scream in Nature."
Two other versions of The Scream have been the subject of high-profile art thefts in recent years.
In 1994, two thieves entered the National Gallery of Norway and fled with the museum’s 1893 version of The Scream. A successful sting operation brought the work back to the museum later that year, unharmed.
A decade later, masked gunmen stole Munch’s 1910 version of The Scream, as well as his Madonna, from the Munch Museum, also in Oslo. Both works were recovered two years later, and went back on exhibition in 2008.