Extreme Alternative Investing: Edvard Munch’s The Scream, at $80 Million or So (BID)

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If something can rise in value, investors and speculators may be involved. The world of art is one of the true alternative investing venues as investors often compete head-to-head with museums, foundations, wealthy collectors and museums seeking the next great one-of-a-kind masterpiece. The art world has a true gem coming up for auction in the coming days. Sotheby’s (NYSE: BID) is auctioning off Edvard Munch’s The Scream and it may end up being one of the highest-priced paintings ever auctioned.

Munch’s masterpiece will lead Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on May 2 and estimates are very high. Some put it as high as $80 million, but there is a chance that it could fetch even more if the bidding interest escalates. This world-famous masterpiece is from 1895 and it is rather easily one of the most recognizable paintings in the world of art.

The Scream is a pastel on board painting measuring 32 inches by 23.25 inches and it is the only one of four versions that is still in private hands. Will that remain true after this Sotheby’s auction? Munch’s masterpiece is being sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, and Olsen’s father was said to be a friend, neighbor and patron of Edvard Munch.

If you do not have access to $80 million or more, don’t sweat it. There are other “more affordable” Edvard Munch paintings coming up for auction as well in the same Sotheby’s auction. Munch’s Summer Night is up for bid and Sotheby’s has an estimated range of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000 for this piece. A darker piece called Night in Saint-Cloud has an estimated range of $1.5 million to $2 million. Lastly, Munch’s Woman Looking in the Mirror is also up for bidding and Sotheby’s has project $5 million to $7 million as its range.

Sotheby’s held an auction in November 2011 where Edvard Munch’s painting called Morning on the Promenade des Anglais was auctioned off. That particular painting had an estimate of $2 million to $3 million, but it sold at a reported $1,986,500 in that auction. Perhaps the weakness in the global markets and the fears of Europe and the fears of a double-dip recession got in the way at the time.

In March of this year there was a knock-off auction in London of The Scream, if you consider an original Andy Warhol painting as not being original. That painting was projected to sell for 200,000 to 300,000 British Pounds and it fetched a premium of 313,250 British Pounds.

Stay tuned!

JON C. OGG

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