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EDVARD MUNCH

US billionaire Black is ‘Scream’ buyer: report

US investment billionaire Leon Black is the mystery buyer who paid a record-breaking $119.9 million for Edvard Munch's "The Scream" at an auction in May, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The painting, one of the most recognizable in history and the only privately-held version of Munch's famous scene, was sold at Sotheby's in New York in a dramatic 12-minute sale — but the buyer remained anonymous.

The Wall Street Journal said it learned from "several people close" to Black that the well-known art collector had bought the painting. The $119.9 million price tag was the highest ever for a work of art at a public auction.

Black's spokesman refused to confirm or deny the report Wednesday, telling AFP: "We are not commenting on the story in the Wall Street Journal."

Leon Black, a 60-year-old New Yorker, is the founder and senior partner of Apollo Global Management, an investment fund. He is estimated to be worth $3.4 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

The 1895 work is one of four versions Munch painted. Its nightmarish central figure and lurid, swirling colors symbolized the existential angst and despair of the modern age.

Another version of "The Scream' belongs to the National Gallery of Munch's native Norway, while the remaining two belong to the Munch Museum in Oslo.

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ART

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.

mata-mua_gauguin-madrid

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.

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