Munch’s “The Scream,” the only one that was still privately owned, sold at Sotheby’s Auction on May 2nd for a record price of $120 million dollars. I would have to say that calling this a “record price” is like calling a 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe “just a car.” It’s not just a “record price,” it’s an astonishingly insane record price!
Having owned my own auction house, I try to act sophisticated when it comes to some of these, shall we say, absurdities. But even I can’t contain my own scream at the mind-blowing final results of this single offering.
It is interesting to note that this one item sold for more money than what Christie’s entire auction realized just the night before. Prior to Sotheby’s selling what is one of the four Scream versions done by Edvard Munch, the record for a single piece of art was $106.5 million; the price for Picasso’s, “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust.” That record was set in 2010.
Sotheby’s take for this little service they provided to the previous owner? $12.9 million. The addition of this painting helped to secure the biggest one time auction total for Sotheby’s – $330 million. Depending on their buyer’s premium percentage, not to be confused with consignor commission rates, they may have made themselves $33 million in just the buyer’s premium alone.
As I sit here typing this, I’m eating a few sour grapes. Can’t be helped. Mamma mia! In all the years I was in business, my gross receipts barely surpassed what Sotheby’s collected on just this one item. It’s enough to make me, well, scream.
The guess, right or wrong, is that this pastel version is going to Qatar for a museum currently being built. The other pastel and the two versions that are done in oil are already in museums.
05/04/2012 by Anne Benedetto