Odds are 3-to-1 that when Edvard Munch’s “Scream” comes up for sale at Sotheby’s on Wednesday night, it will fetch $150 million to $200 million. And there’s a 3-to-2 chance that pastel will become the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction, breaking the current record of $106.5 million set two years ago at Christie’s for Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust.” As for who will buy “The Scream,” bets are 5-to-2 that it will be a Russian, 3-to-1 an Asian or European and 4-to-1 an American. That’s the thinking, anyway, from Ladbrokes, the British bookmaking chain, which has been analyzing the fate of what Sotheby’s is billing as the most recognizable image in art history after the “Mona Lisa.”
Art isn’t generally Ladbrokes’s métier, but laying odds on just how much this work will get has even captured the attention of gamblers used to putting their money on horse races or boxing. Jessica Bridge, a spokeswoman for the company, said that the bookmakers “apply the same math and algorithms we do for football or hockey.”
While it is certain to be the big draw, “The Scream” is not the only highly recognizable work up for sale at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips de Pury over the next two weeks. Other highlights include a classic red abstract Rothko canvas; a Warhol image of Elvis Presley; a Picasso portrait of Dora Maar, the artist who was his lover and muse; and a watercolor of one of Cézanne’s famed Card Players.
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