Over the past two decades, two of the four known copies of Edvard Munch’s The Scream have been stolen. Luckily, each was recovered, likely because selling something that rare on the black market is nearly impossible. Selling it legally to the highest bidder however is another matter entirely.

Of the four known copies, two have long sat in the Munch Museum and one has resided in The National Gallery of Norway. The lone in private hands is a pastel given by Munch to his friend and patron Thomas Olsen. After the shipping magnate passed, the work passed down to his son Petter, who has, after many years, finally decided to sell it.

The auction will take place at Sotherby’s in May during an entire evening dedicated to impressionist and modern art. According to The Los Angeles Times, early estimates are placing the pastel’s value at around eighty million dollars, but it’s still unclear what the painting might actually fetch in a live auction format. That figure might sound incredibly high, but given how famous The Scream is and how few original copies we actually have, it sounds right to me. Few works of art would add as much prestige to a private collection or gallery as this one.

Pessimists might argue this is the wrong economy to be selling an item of so much value in, but even with wallets tightened a bit, there are some things people will still shell out for. There’s no telling whether collectors will ever have another chance. Now is the time, and I expect many bidders to take a run.

We’ll let you know how much The Scream ends up selling for and who forks over the cash to buy it come May.



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