Munch ‘Scream’ Sells for Record $119.9 M. at Sotheby’s

munch Munch Scream Sells for Record $119.9 M. at Sothebys

Edvard Munch's "The Scream," 1895. (Courtesy Sotheby's)

Tonight at Sotheby’s, about an hour into the house’s enormous Impressionist and modern evening sale, a tuxedo-clad Tobias Meyer brought his hammer down on Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1895), selling it for $119.9 million with buyer’s premium to a telephone bidder. That makes it the most expensive work ever sold at auction, a fact that Mr. Meyer announced to an applauding crowd.

Applause first rippled through the room when the bidding eclipsed the $100-million mark. Steady bidding had paused for a moment at $99 million, when a phone representative indicated a bit more time was needed. “At 99 million, I have all the time in the world,” Mr. Meyer replied, not missing a beat. No art auctioneer before Mr. Meyer had ever before crossed that line into nine figures.

The battle for the lot lasted some 10 minutes, climbing in million-dollar increments for the last $15 million of the $107-million hammer price. When Mr. Meyer ventured above $90 million, people started doing the math, murmuring. With premium added, would it beat the Picasso portrait that sold for $106.5 million at Christie’s in 2010? In the end, the hammer price alone would eclipse that number.

Article continues below
More from Culture
Shades of "Greenery."
Pantone’s Color of the Year is Green—a Vastly Underappreciated Color