The world went crazy Wednesday night with news that Edvard Munch’s famous work of art, “The Scream,” sold for $119.9 million at Sotheby’s, setting the the world record for any work of art sold at an auction. The irony is when Edvard Munch painted “The Scream” he did not have enough money to buy canvas, so the painting is on cardboard. It is a remarkable image with a history to match: during the second world war when Norway was occupied by the Nazis, it was hidden in a hay loft.
But was Munch’s 1895 pastel really the priciest work of art? The sale is only a record in nominal terms: adjusted for inflation, several more expensive paintings have been sold (see below). When private sales are taken into consideration, “The Scream” looks like a bargain: press reports suggest that a buyer paid $250m for Paul Cézanne’s “The Card Players” in 2011.
Here’s a look at the costliest works of art, with the prices adjusted for inflation.
Portrait Du Docteur Gachet @ $142.3 Million
Au Moulin De La Galette @ $134.6 Million
Garçon A La Pipe @ $124.3 Million
The Scream @ $119 Million
Nude, Green Leaves, And Bust @ $111.7 Million
L’Homme Qui Marche @ $109.5 Million
Dora Maar Au Chat @ $106.4 Million
Here’s a Sotheby’s provided list of the most expensive artworks ever sold in auction