'Scream' Munch Painting Auction Rakes in $120 Million, Breaks Art Records

"The Scream" Munch painting auction smashed art records when the piece was sold for nearly $120 million Wednesday, setting the standard for the most expensive piece of art ever bought.

"The Scream" painting, a masterpiece by Edvard Munch, was auctioned off at a Sotheby's auction over about a 15-minute period. By the end of the fast-paced bidding, the price had been driven up to $107 million, and ended at $119,922,500- the cost of the painting plus a commission, of course.

The buyer of the painting, an unnamed Sotheby's executive, is the world's only private owner of one of the four versions of the Scandanavian painter's instantly recognized work. The other three are held by collections or museums.

"Together with the Mona Lisa, it's the most famous and recognized image in art history," Michael Frahm, of London-based art advisory service Frahm Ltd., told the Associated Press.

The painting has become mainstream, "used by everyone from Warhol to Hollywood to cartoons to teacups and T-shirts," he added, which fueled the contention that started bidding at $40 million, immediately pounced on by seven buyers.

Eventually, the bidding boiled down to two bidding by phone, with the two unnamed bidders surpassing the previous record of $106.5 million for Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust" in 2010.

Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen formerly owner the piece, and had a personal connection surpassing simple visual pleasure- his father supported Munch financially, and was his friend as well.

"I have lived with this work all my life, and its power and energy have only increased with time," Olsen said, adding that he felt "the moment has come to offer the rest of the world the chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work."

The business mogul attended the sale, stating that he was pleased with the outcome. The proceeds from the art sale will fund the establishment of a museum, art center, and hotel in Hvitsten, Norway- the hometown of both Munch and Olsen's father.

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