In the art world, certain events stand out as monumental moments that shape the course of history. One such event took place on May 2nd, 2012, when a pastel version of Edvard Munch’s famous painting “The Scream” was sold at auction for a staggering $119,922,500. This sale not only set a new record for the highest price paid at auction for a single piece of art but also solidified “The Scream” as an iconic masterpiece in the art community.

The Artist: Edvard Munch

Before we delve into the details of the sale, let’s take a moment to appreciate the artist behind this extraordinary piece. Edvard Munch, born in Norway in 1863, was a highly influential painter and printmaker. He was one of the pioneers of Expressionism, a movement that sought to depict emotions and subjective experiences rather than objective reality.

Munch’s works often explored themes of anxiety, despair, and existential dread, which resonated deeply with audiences. His unique style, characterized by bold brushstrokes and vivid colors, gave his paintings a sense of raw emotion and intensity.

The Creation of “The Scream”

“The Scream” is undoubtedly Munch’s most famous work and a true representation of his artistic vision. The painting was created in 1893 and is part of a series of four versions, including two paintings and two pastels. The pastel version that was sold in 2012 is considered the most vibrant and visually striking of them all.

The inspiration for “The Scream” came to Munch during a walk along a fjord in Oslo, Norway. As he later described, he felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety and despair, which he sought to capture in his artwork. The figure in the painting, with its contorted face and hands pressed against its ears, has become an iconic symbol of human anguish.

The Record-Breaking Sale

The sale of “The Scream” in 2012 was a momentous occasion that attracted worldwide attention. The auction took place at Sotheby’s in New York, where bidders eagerly competed for the chance to own this iconic piece of art. The final winning bid of $119,922,500 shattered the previous record for the highest price paid at auction for a single artwork.

The buyer of “The Scream” chose to remain anonymous, adding an air of mystery to the already significant sale. Speculation arose regarding the identity of the buyer, with many art enthusiasts and collectors eagerly awaiting any clues that might reveal their identity.

The Legacy of “The Scream”

Since its creation, “The Scream” has become one of the most recognizable and celebrated paintings in the world. Its influence can be seen in various forms of popular culture, from movies to music and even fashion. The haunting image of the figure in distress has resonated with people across generations, transcending time and cultural boundaries.

The sale of “The Scream” in 2012 further cemented its status as an invaluable piece of art history. It serves as a testament to the enduring power and significance of Munch’s work, as well as the continued appreciation for art that elicits strong emotional responses.


The sale of “The Scream” by Edvard Munch in 2012 marked a pivotal moment in the art world. It not only set a new record for the highest price paid at auction for a single artwork but also solidified the painting’s place in history as an iconic masterpiece. The raw emotion and intensity captured in “The Scream” continue to captivate audiences, reminding us of the power of art to evoke profound emotional responses. As we reflect on this significant event, we are reminded of the lasting impact that art can have on our lives.

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