$80 million for ‘The Scream’? That’s a bargain.

The price for Munch’s most famous work isn’t expected to be anywhere near record-setting


Remy de la Mauviniere/AP

On Tuesday Sotheby’s announced they’ll be auctioning off the privately-owned version of Edvard Munch’s 1895 masterpiece The Scream (the other three versions reside in Norwegian museums) this May 2.

The auction house estimates the iconic artwork will bring in an estimated $80 million. Sounds pricy, but it’s a relative steal. Consider that last year, the royal family of Qatar shelled out $250 million for Paul Cezanne’s  The Card Players—that’s more than $100 million more than the second-most expensive painting ever sold: a Jackson Pollock sold by David Geffen for $140 million to a private buyer via Sotheby’s. Geffen also sold the third most expensive painting, Willem de Kooning’s Women III, to American hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen for $137.5 million. That deal was brokered by Larry Gagosian, who is currently giving away signed and personally dedicated Damien Hirst spot prints to gallery goers who visit each of his 11 international locations before Hirst’s Complete Spot Paintings exhibit closes on March 10. (Registration for “The Complete Spot Challenge” is now closed.)

If it goes for $80 million, The Scream will join the same price camp as Andy Warhol’s Turquoise Marilyn and Jasper John’s False Start. Van Gogh’s  Portrait of Dr. Gachet went for $82.5 million to Japanese business man Ryoei Saito, but its inflation-adjusted price is now closer to $144.1 million. (If you’re interested in buying it, you’ll first have to track down the canvas, which went missing after Saito died in 1996.)

And $80 million is just a few bucks more than Kenneth Thomson paid for Peter Paul Rubens’ Massacre of the Innocents back in 2002. The Toronto billionaire spent $76.7 million for the oil painting, making it the most amount ever paid for an old masters work of art—a title recently usurped by Titian in 2009 when his Diana and Actaeon sold for $91 million in a private sale. Still, the AGO must be pretty pleased that Thomson gifted them the painting the same year he bought it: even though Christie’s had estimated its sale price at a mere $7.75 million when it hit the market, it’s currently valued at $96.1 million.




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