(Bloomberg News) Sotheby's managed a record price and sale tally at last night's auction in New York, even as 15 lots went unsold.
The star was one of Edvard Munch's four versions of "The Scream," which set a record for a work of art at auction when it sold for $119.9 million.
Although 15 of the 76 lots didn't sell -- many toward the end of the two-hour sale -- the $330.6 million auction was Sotheby's top tally for an Impressionist and modern art auction.
"The Scream" smashed the previous record of $106.5 million, established in May 2010 by Pablo Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust." The price for the Munch, which includes Sotheby's $12.9 million commission, exceeds Christie's entire Impressionist and modern art sale the night before.
"Trophies fly to the moon," said Frances Beatty, vice president of Richard L. Feigen & Co., a New York gallery.
A 1941 Picasso owned by financier Ted Forstmann, which according to a lawsuit by his insurer was damaged by a New York gallery, sold for $29.2 million. It was the sale's second-most- expensive work and just shy of its high estimate of $30 million.
A 1936 Surrealist painting by Salvador Dali titled "Printemps Necrophilique" went for $16.3 million, surpassing the $12 million high estimate. It was the evening's third- highest price.
Sotheby's offered five other paintings by Munch, four of which sold.
Last in Private Hands
Munch made four versions of "The Scream," two in oil and two in pastel. Three of them are in museum collections in Norway. Sotheby's version was the last in private hands.
The 1895 pastel-on-board 'Scream' sold last night was the most-talked-about lot of the current New York auctions, which run through May 11 and may tally $1.5 billion.
Auctioneer Tobias Meyer presided over the 12 minutes of bidding for the work, almost exclusively from the phones. Collectors and dealers in the packed salesroom applauded and whistled when Meyer crossed $100 million.
The victor was a client of Charles Moffett, Sotheby's vice chairman for Impressionist and modern art, who deals primarily with the U.S. clients, including casino magnate Stephen A. Wynn. Sotheby's didn't name the buyer, and auction houses protect clients' identity.
"Qatar is the obvious candidate for the buyer," said London-based dealer Richard Nagy who was at the sale. "Purchasing 'The Scream' would have made good business sense for them. They want people to come to their museum, and this is a destination picture. It only would have cost a couple of hours of pumping oil."
Architect Jean Nouvel is redesigning the National Museum of Qatar, scheduled to open in December 2014. The Museum of Islamic Art, designed by I.M. Pei, opened in 2008.