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The Scream bought for world record price

3rd May 2012

One of four versions of Edvard Munch's The Scream has been sold for a world record price at auction in the US.

The iconic pastel, which was created by the Norwegian expressionist in 1895, was bought by an anonymous bidder for USD 119.9 million (GBP 74 million) at Sotheby's in New York.

The sale exceeded the previous world record price for a work of art sold at auction, held by Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust, which sold for USD 106.5m at Christie's in New York in May 2010.

Bidding for the piece, which is the only one of Munch's four versions of The Scream still privately owned, began at USD 40 million and lasted for 12 minutes.

Businessman Petter Olsen, who sold the painting, revealed that his father was friends with Munch and said the proceeds will go towards founding a new museum, hotel and art centre in Norway.

'I have lived with this work all my life and its power and energy have only increased with time,' he explained.

'Now, however, I feel the moment has come to offer the rest of the world a chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work.'

The three other versions of The Scream are all owned by Norwegian museums, though the one sold this week is the only work that includes a poem written by the artist on the frame, detailing his inspiration for the piece.

It reads: 'I was walking along a path with two friends - the sun was setting - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city.'

'My friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.'

Michael Frahm, an art adviser with Frahm Ltd, said it is no surprise The Scream fetched such a high price, considering its iconic status.

'Together with the Mona Lisa, it's the most famous and recognised image in art history. It has been used by everyone from Warhol to Hollywood to cartoons to teacups and T-shirts,' he added.

The overall record for the most expensive work of art is still held by a version of Paul Cezanne's The Card Players, which was sold by Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos to the royal family of Qatar for USD 250 million in a private sale last year.

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