‘Scream’ to make noise at New York art auction

The only privately owned version of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is estimated to sell for at least $80 million at Sotheby's next week as the star of the New York spring art auctions.

'Scream' to make noise at New York art auction

Picasso's portrait of Dora Maar, estimated to sell for $20 million to $30 million at Sotheby's on Wednesday, and Cezanne's "Joueurs de Cartes," estimated to fetch $15 million to $20 million at Christie's on Tuesday, are other highlights of the Impressionist and modern sales.

"The Scream" is one of four versions of a work that symbolized with its nightmarish central figure and lurid colors the existential angst and despair of the modern age.

Simon Shaw, head of the Impressionist and modern department at Sotheby's, said it was "very hard to estimate" the value of the work being sold by Norwegian Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and supporter of the artist.

Some believe bidding could go beyond $80 million, taking the work into the company of just eight other paintings in that price range.

On two occasions, other versions of the painting have been stolen from museums, although both were recovered. Copies have adorned everything from student dorms to tea mugs and the work is one of the few known equally to art experts and the general public alike.

The following week will see post-war and contemporary sales. Among the highlights will be Mark Rothko's 1961 painting "Orange, Red, Yellow" at Christie's on May 8th, with an estimate of $35 million to $45 million.

A Jackson Pollock work, "No. 28," also from the collection of philanthropist David Pincus, is estimated to sell for $20 million to $30 million. Christie's says "there has not been a Jackson Pollock of this quality or scale at auction since 1997."

On May 9th, Sotheby's will offer a strong focus on Pop Art, with Roy Lichtenstein's "Sleeping Girl" from 1964 estimated at $30 million to $40 million, and Andy Warhol's "Double Elvis" estimated at $30 million to $50 million.

The headliner, though, could be Francis Bacon's "Figure Writing Reflected in Mirror" from 1976.

Sotheby's said the painting, estimated at $30 million to $40 million, is "one of the artist's most important paintings ever to come to auction, and is a summation of his simultaneously painterly and intellectual genius."

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Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.


In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.