Was "The Scream" sold a few weeks ago also sold a few years ago?
May 13, 2012 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Recently, Munch's "The Scream" sold for about $120 million. Somehow I had in my mind the idea that (a version of) "The Scream" was sold at auction a few years ago. Did I imagine this?

It's possible what I had in mind was the hullabaloo around The Scream being stolen from a museum. But somehow I have in my mind that between 5-10 years ago, one of the Screams was sold as well. Wikipedia says three are in museums and one is in private hands. I'd be curious to know whether the one sold a few years ago was the same version that was sold this month, and how much it went for then.

On some level, what I would really be interested in is a comprehensive sales history of the four versions of The Scream, including buyers, sellers, and sales prices.

Basic googling isn't turning up anything clear. Anyone with any ideas?
posted by lewedswiver to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
There are several extant copies of the original lithograph version, and I also have a vague recollection that one was sold some time ago. Google isn't helping me either.
posted by caclwmr4 at 4:04 PM on May 13, 2012

There are four versions of the scream, in various media. Two are paintings -- one in the collection of the Munch Museum and the other in the collection of the National Gallery of Norway. Both have been stolen and recovered in the past 20 years, but neither are likely to be sold anytime soon.

The version sold at auction recently was a pastel version. It was previously in a private collection (and, considering the price, will most likely be going to some other crazy rich person's private collection).

The other pastel version is also held in the Munch Museum, making the recent sale the only one held privately.

Your memory is probably that of one of the paintings being stolen -- that happened in 2004.

If you want a really detailed rundown of the provenance of each version, you should probably look into it through the museums that hold them. Also, a good biography of Munch might help -- they often mention who the first buyers of a given painting were, or how it came to be in the collection of a particular museum.

Considering that the three versions not held privately are in museums in Oslo, it doesn't seem like there's a lot of mystery there. Most likely the works were sold to Norwegian collectors who later gave the paintings to museums, or perhaps the museums sought out the works when they came up at auction. We're not talking about the Elgin Marbles, here.
posted by Sara C. at 4:25 PM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

Oh, and there are also apparently several extant prints from a lithograph stone Munch created in 1895. It's possible you might have heard about the sale of one of those.

Those prints would probably be a lot harder to track than the painted or pastel versions (since there would be a lot more of them and they'd have to be identified by number, if they were ever formally numbered).

It's unlikely that the sale of one of those prints would be newsworthy enough for a lay person to have memories of it years later, but maybe one was bought by a museum local to you? Or you heard about it at a dinner party from someone who would have a particular interest? Or there was a heartwarming local news story about it?
posted by Sara C. at 4:33 PM on May 13, 2012

You're probably thinking of the sale of Edvard Munch's Madonna, which set a UK price record in 2008.

As a longtime fan of Munch -- I'm a Scandinavian-American, and have visited both the Munch Museum and National Gallery -- it's fascinating to see him become quite popular in recent years, with The Scream especially becoming a sort of pop culture icon.
posted by dhartung at 1:02 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, there are 4 versions of Der Schrei der Natur:
1893 Painting (oil, tempera and pastel crayon on cardboard) - National Gallery, Oslo
1893 Pastel - Munch Museum
1895 Pastel - in private hands
1910 Painting (tempura-and-oil-on-cardboard) - Munch Museum

The '95 Pastel just sold.
The '93 Painting was stolen in 1994, recovered in 1994.
The 1910 Painting was stolen in 2004, recovered in 2006.

The wiki is fairly detailed. And this article shows each, so you can see the differences, Will The Real Scream Please Stand Up

I was disappointed to learn that multiple "originals" exist, but that's nothing compared to Rodin's the Thinker.
posted by at at 1:31 AM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

What at said. There are several versions of The Scream; the one that sold was the 1895 pastel version.

Also, at, Rodin only allowed 8 casts of his sculptures to be made from original works, which he considered to be originals. Many of the resulting casts from around the world are copies of the original copies, which is why there are so many of them.

posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 7:14 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

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