Often when art masterpieces come up for auction there is a public outcry that museums being unable to compete dollar wise with the resources of wealthy individuals will always lose out. The museums loses and the public loses as the rarified gems are shipped out in the dead of night to a European chateau or Japanese bank vault to be hermetically sealed away from the public eye for another century. However, there is the win/win situation where an insanely wealthy individual purchases a work with their private hoard of cash and then lends it to a museum. Imagine the coup by MOMA, which has annual revenues of about $145 million, to not even sniff a bid for this summer’s blockbuster sale of one of Edvard Munch’s Scream paintings at Sotheby’s which sold for close to $120 million in New York and eventually find the masterpiece hanging on its walls. The New York Times has reported that MOMA will host The Scream for six months starting on October 24th 2012. It will be part of a Munch exhibition on the first floor and is all but guaranteed to boost ticket sales as well as sales of gift items such as tee shirts, mugs, and posters.
While the mystery buyer has not been officially identified, it is generally believed to be Leon Black, the New York based banker who is head of Apollo Global Management. According to Forbes, Black has a net worth of $3.4 billion which gives him the resources to decrease that number by a pip or two to satisfy an art habit. Black is also an avid collector and has long been a patron of the arts. The NYT writes,
Mr. Black, the chief executive of Apollo Global Management, is said to have developed a passion for art after studying it at Dartmouth College in the early 1970s. He has told friends that he considers “The Scream” particularly important because it is a precursor of 20th-century Expressionism…Mr. Black is a member of MoMA’s board, however (as well as of the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art). He is also one of this country’s foremost collectors, having amassed a world-class art collection that includes paintings by Manet, Cézanne and Degas; drawings by Raphael, Daumier and van Gogh; and sculptures by Brancusi, Gauguin and Degas.
Munch produced four versions of The Scream and the other three are all in museums in Munch’s native Norway. The Olsen Scream was created in 1895 from pastel on board and is considered the most vibrant of the four works. It is contained in an original handmade frame by Munch and includes a handpainted poem detailing the work’s inspiration.