One of the most recognizable painting in human history is now expected to fetch up to $200 million—well beyond Sotheby's early $80 million estimate—when it goes on the auction block this week. British oddsmakers are betting a Russian is most likely to scoop up Edvard Munch's The Scream, offered by a Norwegian businessman whose father was a friend of the artist's. Other famous works by Rothko, Warhol, Cezanne, and Picasso are also coming up for sale in the next two weeks, but The Scream is considered possibly the most famous painting after the Mona Lisa. Several collectors are putting works on the auction block after a dry spell, hoping avid, wealthy buyers from Russia, Asia, and the Middle East will pay record prices.
"There are two markets: the regular market for the average collector, and the super-market for global icons" that is fueled by the new rich, said a Sotheby’s spokesman. "This last group gravitates toward the very top." But some art historians believe the expected price is too high, because Munch's painting of a terrified, screaming subject is ugly, and "too depressing" to live with, reports the New York Times. The painting is one of four versions. Two other versions of The Scream were stolen in recent years from two Norwegian museums. Both were recovered. (Read more The Scream stories.)