Sotheby’s scored a major win last night when a painting by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch sold for a whopping $54.5 million.
The work “Pikene på broen” (“Girls on the Bridge”) was painted in 1902 and was estimated to fetch $50 million by auctioneers. According to Bloomberg, it had been guaranteed by a third party buyer in advance of the auction and sold to that buyer without any further bids from the phone or the room. That buyer received a $2 million fee for making the bid according to Bloomberg — so we guess the painting really only cost $52 million.
Last night’s sale marks the second-highest price ever paid for a Munch painting at auction; the most expensive was Munch’s iconic “The Scream,” which went for $119.9 million in 2012, also at Sotheby’s.
This week is a big one for the auction world, with over $1 billion worth of art going up for auction at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips auction houses collectively. Last night’s sale alone made $157.7 million; other big buys were Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s “EM 1 Telephonbild,” which went for $6.1 million (a record for the artist at auction), Pablo Picasso’s “Le Peintre et son modèle,” which went for $12.9 million and his “Tête de femme,” which went for $8.5 million.