Edvard Munch's iconic portrayal of modern anxiety in his painting called "The Scream" has sold at auction for a record-breaking $119,922,500.
The painting, one of the most recognisable images in modern art, sold for a record-breaking price at Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art sale in New York.
The BBC reports the 1895 painting was bought by an anonymous buyer. The price beats the previous auction record of $106.5 million, paid for Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust in 2010.
The pastel is one of four versions of The Scream, and the only one that was left in private hands. Its owner, Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, inherited it from his father, a friend and patron of the artist Edvard Munch. The other versions, two of which have hit the headlines in recent years through being stolen and subsequently recovered, are held by the Munch Museum and the National Gallery of Norway. The Guardian reports this version of the painting is widely regarded to be the best.
The painting is particularly notable for the poem inscribed on its frame, detailing the artist's inspiration. 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.
The sale was the result of lengthy, secretive negotiations between Olsen and Sotheby's. On the auction house's blog, Sotheby's specialist David Norman recounts a visit to Oslo to study the painting a few years ago, in the company of three other specialists:
We were struck by the work's chromatic brilliance. The blazing red-orange and lemon-yellow currents of pastel streaming across the sky, set against the near lapis blues and verdant green of the harbor and landscape, led us to a surprisingly joyous round of exclamations. A work that expressed misery was also a work of dazzling color.
Olsen intends to use the money raised from the sale to build a museum and art centre devoted to the work of Edvard Munch.