Sale of "The Scream" could top auction record: experts

Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:36pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Edvard Munch's "The Scream" could become the most expensive painting ever sold at auction on Wednesday if predictions that the work could fetch up to $150 million are to be believed.

The vibrant pastel, one of four versions by the Scandinavian artist and the only privately owned, is estimated to sell for $80 million when it goes under the hammer at Sotheby's in New York.

But London-based art expert Nicolai Frahm, of Frahm Ltd., believes the price could soar much higher.

"I think it will go to $150 million," he said in a telephone interview, which would smash the auction record of $106.5 million set by Pablo Picasso's "Nude, green leaves and bust" in 2010.

"This is the first time we have ever had such an iconic work up for sale," he added. "This painting is way more famous than the artist ever was."

Other independent art market experts have suggested a final price of around $125 million.

Sotheby's has gone to extraordinary lengths to safeguard the work. It is under 24-hour guard at its New York headquarters, where it is housed in a specially constructed mini-gallery behind a tension wire.

Two of the four Screams were stolen from museums in 1994 and 2004, but both were later recovered. Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and neighbor of Munch's, is selling an 1895 version, planning to fund a museum with the proceeds.   Continued...