Putting A Price On The "The Scream"

By: CBS (Posted by Kion Hudson)
By: CBS (Posted by Kion Hudson)

(CBS)-- It is among the most widely-recognized paintings in the world right up there with the Mona Lisa.

"The Scream" by Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch depicts a human figure on a bridge under a red sky, shrieking in fear or despair.

Munch created four versions of it and as CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports one of them is up for auction Wednesday evening.

"The Scream" could fetch $200 million at auction
Munch painting may be permanently damaged

Sue Prideaux will be in the room when "The Scream" is auctioned. She wrote a biography of Munch. The painting is expected to fetch up to $200 million at Sotheby's auction in New York.

"If you look at the billionaires, there are only so many private islands they can buy, private jets, private yachts. There's only one Scream," said Prideaux.

At least, it is the only one that will ever be up for sale - three others hang in museums.

Munch created the pastel on board in 1895. He was in great pain, a love affair had just ended and he had visited his sister in an Oslo insane asylum when he found himself at a fjord.

"He had this vision that the sky turned to blood and there was this scream though nature," explained Prideaux.

Doane: "Here is this amorphous, amoeba-like, androgynous character.. It evokes a feeling even if we can't quite put our finger on it."

Prideaux: "That's a very important part of it - because you can relate to it whether you're old, young, male, female and the extraordinary thing of the skull beneath the skin - you know we all have that skull, don't we?"

The painting has inspired countless pop-culture knock-offs from the Wes Craven movie to the Homer Simpson poster.

"There aren't many works of art that are blow-up dolls, are there?" Prideaux joked.

New York art dealer David Nash said the piece could sell for much higher than its auction estimate of $80 to $150 million.

"A dealer said you can always re-make the money. You can never re-make the painting," said Nash.

And the auctioneer shopped it around the world - going all-out to get the best price.

"Sotheby's in London presented it like a jewel - in a black velvet room," Prideaux explained. "The presence the painting had - you could just gaze at it for hours and hours."

A presence at a price that precious few can afford.


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