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Edvard Munch's The Scream is auctioned at Sotheby's in New York, where it sold for a record $120m to an unnamed telephone bidder. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images
Edvard Munch's painting The Scream sold for a record $120m (£74m) at auction on Wednesday at Sotheby's in New York, far exceeding pre-sales estimates of about $80m.
The vibrant piece from 1895, the most famous art work in the world still in private hands, went under the hammer at Sotheby's impressionist and modern art auction, where clients and press packed the salesroom for the much-anticipated sale.
Bidding started at about $50m for the work, one of four versions by the Scandinavian painter being sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, and lasted 15 minutes before an unnamed telephone bidder gave the final offer of $119,922,500, including commission. The sales room at Sotheby's erupted in applause and cheering.
The previous record for the most expensive work of art sold at auction had been held by Picasso's Nude, green leaves and bust, which went for $106.5m at Christie's two years ago.
In recent decades The Scream has become a ubiquitous image appropriated for everything from coffee mugs to editorial cartoons.