Can Sotheby’s Recapture Munch Mania With This $50 Million Canvas?

It could become his second-priciest work at auction.

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Edvard Munch, Girls on the Bridge (1902). Courtesy Sotheby's.
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Edvard Munch, Girls on the Bridge (1902). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch, Girls on the Bridge (1902). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Tamara de Lempicka, Portrait de Guido Sommi (1925). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Tamara de Lempicka
Tamara de Lempicka, Portrait de Guido Sommi (1925). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse, Matisse, Femme En Bleu À Table, Fond Rouge. Courtesy Sotheby's.
László Moholy-Nagy, EM Telephonbild (1923). Courtesy Sotheby's.
László Moholy-Nagy
László Moholy-Nagy, EM Telephonbild (1923). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Pablo Picasso, Le Peintre et son modèle (1963). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso, Le Peintre et son modèle (1963). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Pablo Picasso, Tête de femme (1951). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso, Tête de femme (1951). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Diego Rivera, Sans titre (composition cubiste) (1916). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera, Sans titre (composition cubiste) (1916). Courtesy Sotheby's.

Sotheby’s New York has unveiled the star lots in its November 14 auction of Impressionist and modern art, and among them is an Edvard Munch painting that may become his second-priciest work at auction.

The auctioneer made headlines globally in 2012 when it sold a version of his iconic painting The Scream (1895), which rocketed to $119.9 million, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction at the time.

Now, if Girls on the Bridge (1902) makes its $50 million estimate, it will be second only to The Scream. The seller is not named.

The same work came to auction in May 2008, when it fetched some $30.8 million at the same auction house, according to the artnet Price Database. That was the second time the work set an auction record for Munch; it had performed the same feat in 1996, when it brought $7.7 million, also at Sotheby’s New York.

Among the sale’s other highlights are works by Pablo Picasso (a painting estimated at up to $18 million and a sculpture at up to $8 million), Tamara de Lempicka (tagged at up to $6 million), László Moholy-Nagy (expected to bring as much as $4 million), and Diego Rivera (up to $700,000).

The Munch work shows several girls in bright colors standing on a bridge whose handrail creates a bold perspective line, similar to that in The Scream.

Sotheby’s has dominated the Munch auction market over the last decade; nine of the top 10 Munch works at auction have gone through the house’s New York or London sales rooms.

Girls on the Bridge came to the US when it was purchased by none other than entrepreneur Norton Simon, founder of the eponymous museum, in Pasadena, California. He sold it to health care magnate Wendell Cherry and his wife Dorothy in 1980; she sold it at Sotheby’s in 1996.


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