'Scream' sold for $119 million

One of the art world's most recognizable images — Edvard Munch's "The Scream" was sold yesterday (2nd) for a record $119,922,500 at auction in New York City.

The 1895 artwork — a modern symbol of human anxiety — was sold at Sotheby's. Neither the buyer's name nor any details about the buyer was released.

The previous record for an artwork sold at auction was $106.5 million for Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust," sold by Christie's in 2010.

Munch's image of a man holding his head and screaming under a streaked, blood-red sky is one of four versions by the Norwegian expressionist painter. The auctioned piece at Sotheby's is the only one left in private hands.

The image has become part of pop culture, "used by everyone from Warhol to Hollywood to cartoons to teacups and T-shirts," said Michael Frahm of the London-based art advisory service firm Frahm Ltd. "Together with the Mona Lisa, it's the most famous and recognized image in art history."

A buzz swept through the room when the artwork was presented for auction as two guards stood watch on either side. Bidding started at $40 million with seven buyers jumping into the competition early.

The battle eventually boiled down to two phone bidders as the historic hammer price was finally achieved after more than 12 minutes. The record price includes the auction house's fee.

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