A Scream Worth $119,922,500

Tyler Durden's picture

If Munch's Scream was a public company, its stock would be limit up now, because contrary to expectations of it selling at a just concluded auction in Sotheby's for $80 million, the painting just slammed all expectations (except LaVorgna's we are told), selling at a record $119,922,500 (that's $119.9 million... for a made in 1895, 36" x 28.9" painting). This makes it the highest amount of money ever spent for an artwork, with only Picasso's "Boy With a Pipe" and Giacometti's "Walking Man I" selling for more than $100 million in the past. That said, in real terms and assuming 2% annual inflation, the Picasso painting which sold for $104 million in 2004, would now be worth over $120 Million in nominal terms so once again we get into the whole nominal, real debate. It is unknown if some high freak algo went berserk and kept lifting the offer, confused that this is the travesty formerly known as the stock market (although certainly keep an eye out for strange screaming artwork in the GETCO offices) nor is the buyer, but one thing that is certain: it would take the average American 4,548.9 years, earning the 2010 Median Salary of $26,363.55 to be able to purchase the painting. And some wonder why there is a bit of a social divide in the world... As to whether a painting will be considered money by the Charmin' Chairman, well, we will have to wait and see.

From AP:

One of the art world's most recognizable images - Edvard Munch's "The Scream" - sold Wednesday for a record $119,922,500 at auction in New York City.


The 1895 artwork - a modern symbol of human anxiety - was sold at Sotheby's. The price includes the buyer's premium.


The 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.


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.


The image has become part of pop culture, "used by everyone from Warhol to Hollywood to cartoons to teacups and T-shirts," said Michael Frahm of the London-based art advisory service firm Frahm Ltd.


"Together with the Mona Lisa, it's the most famous and recognized image in art history," he added.


Sotheby's said its pastel-on-board version of "The Scream" is the most colorful and vibrant of the four and the only version whose frame was hand-painted by the artist to include his poem, detailing the work's inspiration.


In the poem, Munch described himself "shivering with anxiety" and said he felt "the great scream in nature."


Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and patron of the artist, said he sold the piece because he felt "the moment has come to offer the rest of the world the chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work."


Proceeds from the sale will go toward the establishment of a new museum, art center and hotel in Hvitsten, Norway, where Olsen's father and Munch were neighbors.


The director of the National Museum in Oslo, Audun Eckhoff, says Norwegian authorities approved the Munch sale since the other versions of the composition are in Norwegian museums. One version is owned by the National Museum and two others by the Munch Museum, also in Oslo.


Sotheby's said a total of eight works have sold for $80 million or more at auction.


Only two other works besides Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust" have sold for more than $100 million at auction. Those are Picasso's "Boy With a Pipe (The Young Apprentice)" for $104.1 million in 2004 and Alberto Giacometti's "Walking Man I" for $104.3 million in 2010.

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Coke and Hookers's picture

Any news on who the buyer is?

navy62802's picture

Wouldn't surprise me if it turned out to be Blankfein. He pisses $100 million every morning when he wakes up.

fnord88's picture

It's a real asset though. One of a kind. Even gold cant say that, as a cubic kilometer of ocean contains more gold than has ever been mined. 

Azwethinkweiz's picture

Yeah, but throw a painting in a bucket of that same ocean water and see if it'll still hold it's intrinsic value when you fetch it in the morning.

Troll Magnet's picture

but but but...can you eat it?

A Nanny Moose's picture

You can burn it (painting) for warmth.

AldousHuxley's picture

price does not reflect utility for consumer goods

price reflects meaning of perceived exclusivity and status value

The painting is basically screaming "I'm rich biatch"


beyond basic necessities, man kind labors for social status which can be traded in for power.




Id fight Gandhi's picture

So would this be a Veblen good or a giffen good?

GetZeeGold's picture



Damn this thing looks good behind my desk - Ben Shalom Bernanke

A_S's picture

you also have decent people

The Proletariat's picture

From the article:  "This makes it the highest amount of money ever spent for an artwork".....

I thought money was a store of wealth or value?

So it should say:  This makes it the highest dollar amount ever spent for an artwork.  


neidermeyer's picture

Worthless to me ... you can put a bad image of it from the web in front of a Chinese painting factory crew (the kind that "manufactures" the art you buy at the mall stores) and get hundreds of acceptable copies per hour... The better artists in the group may even be able to make a copy that would fool the casual art enthusiast at a party. 

Blankman's picture

"Worthless to me"


Not really the point.  The dollar amount it sold for is irrelevant, meant to make you and I feel "them rich bastards did it again to us, get em..."  


Really great art such as this is meant to make you feel, plain and simple.  That is why this particular piece is used everywhere.  You see it with your eyes, but deep inside your soul also can "see" truly great art.  Something in you stirs, try to listen to that stirring.  It is that part of our mental make up that TV, movies, sports, politics, etc drive out of us.  We should be focusing on the reawakening of our souls if we want to have better lives and yes great art (music, paintings, words, nature) can help to do this. 

navy62802's picture

So is the Honus Wagner T206 baseball card. Doesn't mean I'm going to pay $2.8 million for it.

Gully Foyle's picture


Yep, FOFOA llisted Art/Wine/Classic Cars/Real estate/Metals as assets which retain value.

SCREAM was missing for two years.

Funny if it were a countrefiet that was sold.


Sunday, 22 August 2004

Scream stolen from Norway museum


Thursday, 31 August 2006

Stolen Munch paintings found safe

Munch painted a number of versions of The Scream

Two masterpieces by artist Edvard Munch have been recovered two years after they were stolen from an Oslo museum.

The Scream and Madonna were found in a police operation. "We are 100% certain they are the originals. The damage was much less than feared," police said.

They had been missing since two armed men ripped them from the wall and threatened staff at the Munch Museum in the Norwegian capital in August 2004.

palmereldritch's picture

An unknown counterfeit flamboyantly priced in real counterfeits? That would be a scream

Haddock's picture

Different version - this one has been held by a Norwegian shipping family for generations

crawldaddy's picture

only is certain stable economies, in time of war, its just turns into spoils for whoever has the biggest gun.

During WW2, these type paintings neither fed a family, nor protected it.

LongSoupLine's picture

I don't know who the buyer is, but I want royalties 'cause that painting is of me after I saw the latest US debt figures.

wandstrasse's picture

the screaming face was NOT inspired by you, it was Munch himself, anticipating that some plutocrat ponzi overlord will spend a ludicrous sum for one of his paintings.

WhackoWarner's picture

Let us hope that the buyer was appreciative of the art he/she purchased. I am a painter. This is one of the most definitive images existing today. Look at the painting and not at the price.

This image says many things about the state of mind of many people today/the day it was painted and much further about society in general as to how the "masses" feel.

This painting is priceless although not especially pretty. Society today is not exactly pretty either.


artwork like this should be in a museum setting. not private hands.


CH1's picture

Were it not that a bigger sucker would pay more for it, I wouldn't pay a hundred bucks for that, or put it on my wall.

CvlDobd's picture

"It belongs in a museum!"

RafterManFMJ's picture

Any news on who the buyer is?


Actually, I am. Cleverly, I put a post-dated check on it for Jan. 2 2014, when I should be earning 400 million dollars per hour.  I'm also trying to take Exxon private the same way.

hidingfromhelis's picture

I didn't do it.  Nobody saw me.  There's no way you can prove anything.


Max Fischer's picture



The Al Thani family of Qatar is the buyer.


ACP's picture

No matter, I just found the 5th version in my closet! Bidding starts at $150,000,000!!!

Agent P's picture

I just found a print in the gift shop.  Bidding starts at $19.95

vast-dom's picture

while i realize that this painting in canonical and considered important, i've always considered it B-grade at best. The worst Francis Bacon painting puts this thing to shame. But hey, Green Mountain roasts some fine coffee bean.


Will the buyer take delivery or just keep it in a bankster vault somewhere?

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


Will the buyer take delivery or just keep it in a bankster vault somewhere?

It's already been rehypothecated via several ETFs, all based in the City of London, of course.


Angus McHugepenis's picture

Neither... he's trying to "hook up" with Mona Lisa to see if the 2 paintings will fuck and produce another $100 million offspring.

The new painting will be called Screaming and Monaing.

HedgeAccordingly's picture

Wild... the art market is one that has always fascinated me in it's ability to transcend all other economic disparity. wonder what the value of the hopper piece 'nighthawks' would be - http://tradeforprof.it 

CPL's picture

Shows how worthless paper money truely is.  While a showcase in an art movement, there are three year olds that eat paste developing similar art styles.

WhackoWarner's picture

Culture is beyond money.  This is, if you see the painting and not the money, a cry from the soul of the artist. Put a Bernanke price on human anguish?

CH1's picture

The art business is insane. Degenerate artists are rewarded, because they are degenerate. Real artists are ignored.

That said, it allows those of us who aren't interested in impressing idiots to get great deals on the good stuff.

RafterManFMJ's picture

True. I was planning on taking a taco shit on a crucifix in a jar and retiring on the proceeds, but sadly it's already been done.  Hey, I gotsa question for all you TUFF GUYS with ideas like 'Piss Christ'... why don't you pull that stuff but substitue Muhammad?

OOOOooooo why that would never fly, would it? And Hell, that would not sell, nor would it tear down the classical liberalism of the West, right?  And some day, Allah Allah OxenFree would incinerate you...cannot have any edgy art that is actually...edgy, can we? Nope.

My first performance art will be, should the opportunity arise, spitting in a Bankster's face.  I promise prints will be reasonably priced.

Uber Vandal's picture

I am very confident that many artists were considered degenerate in their contemporary time, or by a government led by a painter who was not let into the Vienna Academy of Art, and later hailed as genius.




fonzannoon's picture

Bernanke bought it. The word is he was intoxicated and noisily eating a bag of potato chips while laughing a strange crazy laugh and just kept screaming higher and higher bids even when everyone else stopped. Eventually he stopped at his final bid, looked around the room and said "It's all good, I got this" and then fell asleep while still chewing.

Thomas's picture

We've got the the second (of two) Walking Man sculptures in our campus museum. It has a broken leg; some lady fell on it. 

Acorn10012's picture

Are those Thomas' english muffins under the wifebeater?

Seasmoke's picture


cherry picker's picture

Ludricous is the term that floats in my mind.

Every time masses of people start to suffer or suffer, others do things like this and leaves one wondering what ever became of sanity in this life, if sanity even exists.

RafterManFMJ's picture

I thought the same damn thing! Ludacris.


Yeek yeek woop woop! why you all in my ear?! 
Talking a whole bunch of shit
That I ain't trying to hear! 
Get back motherfucker! You don't know me like that! 

ziggy59's picture

Is it taxable? That's a lot of revenue for NYC.. Cripes I would have to pay almost a third in taxes if I won a large lottery...unless my name is GE, AAPL, Stephen King, etc..