Sotheby’s New York sold Edvard Munch’s 1895 “The Scream” for $119.9 million on Wednesday night, setting a record for the most expensive artwork sold at auction.
The top spot was previously held by Picasso’s 1932 “Nude, Green, Leave and Bust” — a painting of his much-younger lover Marie-Therese Walter that sold at Christie’s in 2010 for $106.5 million.
The identity of the buyer, who was bidding by phone during the 12-minute auction, has not been confirmed. Bidding started at $40 million, with at least five bidders. Rumors before the sale, not confirmed, focused on interest from the royal family of Qatar.
Munch’s “The Scream” achieved another milestone: It now ranks as the most expensive drawing publicly sold. For this version of “The Scream” — one of four — is best described as a crayon or pastel drawing, not a painting, on board. The Munch Museum in Oslo owns a pastel as well as a painted version, while the National Gallery of Norway holds the earliest painting, dated 1893.