Buyer reported for Munch’s ‘Scream’

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UPDATED: International art experts initially thought that Norway’s most famous painting, The Scream by Edvard Munch, was most likely to be bought by the wealthy royal family in Qatar. Now reports are swirling that the painting remains in the US, where it set a new record when it was sold at auction last spring in New York.

Sotheby's auction of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" was a huge success, not least for seller Petter Olsen. PHOTO: Sotheby's/Scanpix

The painting had been owned by Norwegian shipping heir Petter Olsen, who inherited it from his parents and grandparents. They were acquainted with the artist in Norway and had a large collection of Munch paintings. There are four versions of The Scream, with the other three belonging to museums in Oslo.

The winning bidder for the pastel version that was on the block paid USD 119.9 million for Olsen’s painting. Oslo-based newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported last week that the two hottest names behind the winning bid were American casino billionaire Steve Wynn and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Both men have built up large art collections in recent years, with Allen’s containing works by Picasso, Monet, Renoir and Jasper Johns. DN received an e-mail back from Allen, however, in which he claimed he wasn’t the buyer. There was no response from Wynn.

On Wednesday, the US-based Wall Street Journal reported that the buyer instead is American businessman Leon Black, lead partner in Apollo Global Management and a board member of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He studied art at Dartmouth College and has an art collection valued at USD 750 million, according to the Journal, and his museum connections may mean The Scream will eventually go on public view.

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