How Erté Shaped Art Deco Design and Style (Invaluable)

Original article here.

Erte, “Queen of the Night” (detail), 1987. Sold for $2,375 via Freeman’s (April 2015).

Much of what we recognize today as Art Deco design was crafted by Erté through his strong and timeless aesthetic. Spanning many areas of visual culture, including illustrations for fashion magazines, costumes for opera and ballet, and sculpture and set design for theater, Erté’s signature style set the tone for the modern era.

Romain de Tirtoff

Born Romain de Tirtoff in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892, Erté broke free from the conventions of his aristocratic family and moved to Paris in 1910 to follow his ambitions as an artist.

After a couple of years, his breakthrough, and arguably his biggest influence, was brief collaboration with famed Parisian couturier Paul Poiret, who renamed him “Erté” (the French pronunciation of his initials). This set Erté’s trajectory into the fashion world and before long, he was selling illustrations to Paris fashion houses and magazines. World War I and the ensuing economic decline in Europe subsequently caused Erté to focus his attentions to the American market and led him to secure a long-term contract with Harper’s Bazaar magazine in 1915.

Erte, design for the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, 1935. Sold for £6,545 via Sotheby’s (May 2005).

His exuberant style came into its own in the French theater world, where for 35 years, he designed the costumes and sets for esteemed productions such as Folies-Bergere in Paris and the Ziegfeld Follies of 1923, and for a brief period worked on several Hollywood silent films.

Working right up until his death in 1990, Erté produced some 22,000 designs during his career, applying his talents to everything from lighting and furnishings, accessories and jewelry. He eventually branched out into the realm of limited edition prints, bronzes, and wearable art and had his work had a major revival during the 1960s with the Art Deco revival. Erté’s final swansong was in the 1980s when he completed 100 new designs for a Glyndebourne opera production.

Erté Art

The impact of Erté’s contributions to the principles of contemporary fashion, design, and theater, and setting the visual pace within the 20th century, cannot be underestimated. His work set the precedent for the interconnection of art and culture. Erte art majestically encapsulates the taste and aesthetic of the time, with influences drawn from diverse sources such as Russian iconography, Byzantine mosaics, Greek pottery and Indian and Egyptian art.

Admired by celebrities of the time and emulated by the everyday woman, he is one of few artists who has had significant influence over cultural trends. Erté introduced the image of a stylized body draped in beads and furs, which would define and capture the essence of a generation: spectacle, exoticism, and fantasy.

1. Erte Fashion Illustrations

Erté introduced a sense of theatricality into Art Deco fashion, making popular velvet evening wraps with Chinese sleeves and gold embroidery, and long gowns covered in crystal and pearls. His silhouettes, asymmetrical hemlines, eye for unisex clothing, use of metals in fashion, and tailored professional-wear, influenced fashion designers such as Yves Saint Laurent in his 1976 Ballets Russes collection, Oscar de la Renta’s signature embellishments and draping, and the décor of London’s famous fashion emporium Biba, among others.

Erte, “‘L`Inoubliable Nuit, No. 45’,” 1917. Sold for $1,800 via Shapiro Auctions (June 2014).

It is primarily through his contribution to Harper’s Bazaar magazine that Erté became known within the fashion and publishing world, changing the trajectory of fashion illustration. Erté worked for the publication for 22 years and designed more than 240 magazine covers, where he oversaw the magazine’s art direction. Harper’s Bazaar was the perfect medium to reflect the newfound freedom and love of spectacle in early-20th century American society. He portrayed the modern woman in scenes of everyday life, donning exuberant and vibrant colors and textiles, thus putting a new spin on what is perceived as glamorous.

The sense of movement and his painstakingly detailed work, as seen in Sports d’Hiver (pictured below), where Erté drew each individual dot of the snow by hand, is what makes these pieces “outstanding works of graphic art” and “quintessential art deco masterworks,” according to Christine von der Linn, a specialist at Swann Auction Galleries.

Erte, “Sports d’Hiver.” Cover illustration for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. Sold for $8,125 via Swann Auction Galleries (May 2017).

However, most of Erté’s surviving original cover designs for Harper’s Bazaar remain in private collections, therefore, is quite rare to find them at auction. His reproductions from the 1990s as serigraphs or the original Harper’s Bazaar magazines are more affordable and easier pieces to find.

Among the many projects he took up within fashion are the design illustrations and prints Erté created for New York shoe manufacturer Herman Delmanare and the designs for premier New York store Henri Bendel and B. Altman & Co.

2. Erte Jewelry

Erté’s ideas transcended a variety of media, and he even experimented as a jewelry-maker. Though Erte jewelry is less common at auction, they reflect the same principles and aesthetics established in Erte fashion illustrations.

A set of sapphire, sterling silver and gold jewels by ErtŽe, from the limited edition “Nile” collection. Sold for CAD4000 via Dupuis Auctions (June 2018).

Erté started designing jewelry in 1979 for the Circle of Fine Art (CFA) with great success. Together, they produced a total of 328 limited edition designs. Based on the artist’s intricate style and detailed designs, his jewelry is known as Erte “Art To Wear.” He would also draw inspiration from the nautical world (his most recurring and favorite theme), animals, birds (the peacock being his favorite), and Egyptian culture, amongst other sources. From rings to earrings and pendants, he would design each collection under a different theme, such as “Fantasy,” “La Mer,” “Tempest,” or the “The Nile.” Erté’s last “Art to Wear” designs were for a series of numerals in gold. Also keep an eye out for jewelry design sketches, which prove to be highly collectible.

3. Erte Costume and Set Design

During the 1920s and 1930s, Erté designed sets and costumes for a great variety of Broadway theater productions. His innovations in costume design range from performers adorned with large, plumed headdresses, pearls and embroidered trains, and costumes that evoke tableaux vivants. Erté was further set apart from contemporary theater designers by the quality and detail of his finished designs.

Erte, Costume Design: Blue Robe. Via Sotheby’s (February 2018).

Erté’s designs, silhouettes and movement influenced dancers of all genres and styles, inspiring countless imitations. Erte artwork also influenced future costume designers such as American designer Adrian Adolph Greenberg, better known as “Adrian,” and best known for his work in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz.

His first introduction to the film industry was in designing sets and costumes for Hollywood director Louis B. Mayer, such as the 1925 film Ben Hur. However, his relationship with Hollywood ended fairly quickly, partly due to the fact that Erté’s designs did not translate well into practical costumes. Not fitting within the film industry, Erté moved onto industrial design, conceptualizing utilitarian objects and domestic interiors.

Erte, “Cosi Fan Tutte-Décor of the 4th act,” 1947. Sold for €3,640 via Artcurial (May 2015).

Erté’s highly detailed gouaches played a crucial role in his legacy and ensured the long-term success of the artist. This could be due to the fact that many of his costume and set designs have not survived and it is the gouaches that were preserved by Erté that still allow for a comprehensive overview of his achievements today.

4. Erte Bronze

From the 1970s, utilising the revival of his work, Erté reproduced many of his gouache artworks through serigraphs and lithographs as a way to reach more audiences. In 1980, he produced a series of bronze sculptures, also based on the characters and costumes of his designs. Erté believed that these bronze sculptures allowed him to translate his ideas to an extent that was not possible on the stage or on paper. Erte’s ultimate goal was for these sculptures to become objects of beauty and desire.

Erté, Cold Painted Bronze Sculpture: “Ready for the Ball,” late 20th century. Sold for $1800 via Heritage Auctions (May 2017).

In the 1960s Erte’s career experienced a renaissance, becoming again the reference for a new generation. In addition to his popularity as an artist, it is still evident how Erté’s art has had an effect on almost all aspects of visual culture, both by defining the Art Deco aesthetic and remaining timeless to this day. Erté’s ability to create worlds immersed with glamour, spectacle and fantasy still remains relevant in the 21st century, speaking to the sensibility of a cross-cultural era.

Hallmarks of Erté Art (& How to Spot a Counterfeit)

To better understand the hallmarks of Erté art, and the defining characteristics that collectors should look for, we sat down with Ray Perman, specialist in Erté art at London’s Grosvenor Gallery. Here are his recommendations.

1. Limited Edition Prints

  • Check publications. Erté produced 469 limited editions over the span of 30 years, which are fully recorded in three publications, Erté at Ninety: The Complete Graphics, Erté at Ninety-Five: The Complete New Graphics, and Erté: The Last Works: Graphics / Sculpture.
  • Know the hallmarks of his late works. Later works were produced with embossing and hot foil-stamping, but there are no known fakes of these late editions as the process is too expensive to be viable. The earlier serigraphs and lithographs are printed on high quality Arches paper.
  • Check for blind stamps, signatures, and certificates. All editions have a blind stamp of the publisher and the signature of the artist. A certificate was provided for each print. Potential buyers should ask for this and the provenance of the work.
  • Understand print type and edition size. A number of book and calendar illustrations are often offered as original prints, but these can be easily identified because of the quality, size, and lack of edition number.

2. Sculpture

  • Check publications. Erté produced 146 bronze editions. All are recorded in Erté: The Last Works: Graphics / Sculpture.
  • Look for a foundry stamp. All bronzes bear a foundry stamp, edition number and the signature of the artist. There are no known fakes of Erte’s original sculptures as the cost of reproduction is high and any cast from an original sculpture would be of different dimensions.
  • Understand the difference between Erte and Jules Erte. There have been a number of sculptures offered mastering as Erté, and there are also works produced by a different artist, Jules Erte, that can be confused for the work of Romain de Tirtoff. However, the difference in image and style is easy to detect.

Detail of stamp on an Erte bronze.

3. Original Works

  • Understand the artist’s preferred medium. All known works, with one exception, are pen and ink for early fashion drawings and gouache on paper for theater, Revue and Harper’s Bazaar covers.
  • Look for numbers and stamps on works on paper. Erté kept a record of all his original works, which is unusual for an artist. Each gouache or drawing has a unique number and brief description on the back, and is also stamped “Composition Originale.” The number is noted in the written records along with details of the production and the name of the person who commissioned the work. Fakes can be determined by reference to the records and examination of the work.

About Fiona McKay & Xenia Capacete

Fiona and Xenia are fashion curators and exhibit makers, and founders of White Line Projects, a curatorial and creative studio based in London. White Line Projects curates, designs, and produces a diverse range of outcomes including exhibitions, installations and digital experiences, and websites for a wide range of clients in the fashion and cultural sectors. Fiona, Xenia, and the team at White Line Projects bring a diverse combination of skills and background experience ranging from visual communications and 3D technologies to architecture, art history, and exhibition design to theater design and performing arts.

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$4.5 Million Frank Gehry House Sells for Less Than $1 Million (artnet news)

by Eileen Kinsella, Thursday, May 21, 2015 original article here.

The guest house Frank Gehry designed for Penny and Mike Winton in 1982. Image: Courtesy of Wright, Chicago.

The guest house Frank Gehry designed for Penny and Mike Winton in 1982. Image: Courtesy of Wright, Chicago.

Despite considerable hype—including a lengthy catalogue entry with accolades from architecture experts and fellow artists—a custom built house by starchitect Frank Gehry fell far short of earlier estimates and just below the presale estimate at Wright auction house in Chicago yesterday (see Raymond Pettibon Has Gehryish Taste in Apartments and Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial a Go, Geffen Contemporary Remodel Next?).

Winton Guest House, Gehry’s “sculptural building” composed of six geometric forms clad in a range of building materials and finishes, sold for a hammer price of $750,000 ($905,000 total) on May 19, after “five minutes of lackluster bidding,” according to the Minneapolis Star TribuneIt was once valued at $4.5 million, but estimates were tamped down to $1 million to $1.5 million for the sale, the Star Tribune reports (see Frank Gehry Fired From World Trade Center Arts Complex Job and Frank Gehry Gives Spanish Critics the Finger).

The house, which has won numerous awards, was commissioned by Minnesota arts patrons Penny and Mike Winton after they read a feature on Gehry in a 1982 edition of the New York Times Magazine. According to the Wright catalogue, the house was initially situated on the Wintons’ 12-acre Lake Minnetonka property and then moved in 2008 to Owatonna Minnesota. “Upon purchasing this work, the structure will again need to be relocated,” the catalogue states.

The six forms that make up the house include: a 35-foot tall pyramid-shaped living room finished in black painted metal; a curved bedroom covered in dolomite limestone from southern Minnesota; a cube-shaped fireplace alcove covered in brick; a rectangular garage and kitchenette covered in Finnish plywood and strips of aluminum, and a rectangular loft in galvanized steel and a second bedroom with a slanted roof, also painted in black metal.

The house was sold by the University of St. Thomas which acquired it in 2007 as a gift from Kirt Woodhouse, a real estate developer who purchased it from the Wintons in 2001.  The new owner, who was not identified will have to move the house at “substantial additional cost,” the Star Tribune reports.

Banksy Mobile Lovers Get $670,000 Price Tag from Antiques Roadshow (artnet news)

by Eileen Kinsella, Monday, June 2, 2014 original article here.

banksy-antiques-roadshow-homepage

Banksy, Mobile Lovers (2014). Courtesy Vision Invisible/Flickr.

A Banksy mural with an interesting back story could bring in over a half million dollars for a British boys club in dire need of funds.

Mobile Lovers, a work showing a man and woman seemingly locked in a passionate embrace, but actually gazing distractedly over each other’s shoulders at their cell phones, their faces lit from the glow, was valued at $670,000 (£400,000) on the Antiques Roadshow TV program. The work was brought for appraisal by a Bristol-based youth club known as the Broad Plain Boys’ Club. An added bonus, the club has a letter from the mysterious street artist himself, stating that the club can keep the work.

In April, shortly after Mobile Lovers was spotted on a wall in Bristol, it was taken down by the youth club with a crowbar. The club left a note indicating that they removed it “to prevent vandalism or damage being done,” as artnet News reported. The move was controversial, sparking some criticism that it was holding the work “hostage.” According to their note, “You are free to come and view, but a small donation will be asked for you.” The letter from Banksy, and confirmation from Banksy’s publicist Jo Brooks has seemingly quashed any question of ownership between the city of Bristol, where the artist resides, and the youth club.

In the Daily Mail, club leader Dennis Stinchcombe said he had received offers as high as $1.7 million (£1 million) for the work since the Banksy confirmation. Stinchombe said he was considering selling the work at auction but was concerned about “choosing an appropriate auctioneer and one which is respectful of the work.” His hope is that any sale proceeds “settle our finances and secure our future over the next few years at least.”

Stinchcombe had hoped to keep a low profile when he brought it to the BBC program being filmed at Ashton Court in Bristol last Thursday (May 29), but the large, distinctive work was spotted almost immediately, and crowds descended.

Banksy’s auction record is for Keep It Spotless (2007), (a playful jab at Damien Hirst), made of household gloss and spray paint on canvas, that sold for $1.9 million at Sotheby’s New York in 2008, soaring above expectations of $250,000–350,000. According to the artnet database, roughly 1,165 Banksy works have appeared at auction to date.

 

Banksy adds Nazi to thrift store painting, amps up charity’s fund-raising (NY Daily News)

BY , NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, October 29, 2013, 8:19 PM original article here.

 

Banksy transformed this cheap nature scene into a high-priced work of art with his addition of a Nazi enjoying the view.

Banksy transformed this cheap nature scene into a high-priced work of art with his addition of a Nazi enjoying the view.

Banksy’s latest work is a Nazi who’s raising big bucks for charity.

The cagey street artist surprised the Housing Works Thrift Shop in Gramercy on Tuesday by returning a pastoral oil painting he had bought for $50, after he added a Nazi soldier sporting a swastika armband.

Store officials wasted no time in auctioning the piece on BiddingForGood.com. A bidding war started at $74,000 and stood at $201,200 as the clock struck midnight Tuesday night. No telling what the price will be when the online auction ends at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Housing Works plans to use its windfall to fund its mission of fighting homelessness and AIDS.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

The crowd at Housing Works Thrift Shop in New York takes pictures of the latest Banksy work.

Josh Haskins, the store assistant manager, said the painting, originally done by an obscure artist named K. Sager, mysteriously appeared at the shop Tuesday morning.

“Someone showed up at the counter and told a volunteer to get the manager, saying, ‘A valuable piece of art is here,’” said Haskins. “He then just walked away.

“I took one look at it and I knew what it was,” said Haskins, 27, of Brooklyn. “I’ve been into Banksy since I was in college.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Banksy fans gather to take snapshots of ‘The banality of the banality of evil,’ the artist’s latest work on sale at the Housing Works Thrift Shop.

Rebecca Edmondson, spokeswoman for Housing Works, said proceeds from the painting would help thousands.

“Housing Works is thrilled to receive such a generous donation from Banksy,” Edmondson said in a statement. “It means a lot to our organization that the artist is using his time in New York to give back to the very community that has been captivated by his every move.

“Proceeds from this one of a kind piece will do so much good for the thousands of men, women and children dealing with the dual crisis of homelessness and AIDS that still plagues our city streets.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Hung just so above a couch in the Housing Works Thrift Shop, art collectors should have no trouble imagining the oil painting modified by Banksy in their own living rooms.

To the painting, Banksy added the Nazi soldier sitting on a wooden bench and staring contemplatively at the original artist’s fall landscape of a peaceful river flowing from a snowy mountain.

The famed British graffiti master signed the painting under Sager’s signature.

“A thrift store painting vandalized then re-donated to the thrift store,” Banksy wrote on his website.

Not everyone can afford $153,601 — possibly more — for a painting, even one transformed by famed street artist Banksy, so they're taking photos of it instead.

Not everyone can afford $153,601 — possibly more — for a painting, even one transformed by famed street artist Banksy, so they’re taking photos of it instead.

He titled the doctored painting: “The banality of the banality of evil.”

While Banksy didn’t offer an explanation, the work is reminiscent of a 1969 episode of Rod Serling’s TV show “Night Gallery.” In an episode titled “The Escape Route,” a Nazi war criminal, haunted by past demons and confronted by a Holocaust survivor, finds solace in a serene museum painting.

The E. 23rd St. store immediately drew a crowd of photographers and Banksy fans after the shop hung the framed 3-by-2-foot painting in the front window above a checkered pink couch.

The donation to Housing Works came just days after Banksy angered loved ones of 9/11 victims by slamming the design of 1 World Trade Center as “vanilla” and a symbol that “proclaims the terrorists won.”

Banksy has been on a month long residency in New York, tagging buildings with provocative graffiti and erecting installations in vacant lots and even on trucks roving the city.

Mexico demands Sotheby’s halt auction of artifacts (Associated Press)

By MARK STEVENSON March 21, 2013 3:17 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government is demanding that Sotheby’s auction house halt the planned sale of 51 pre-Columbian Mexican artifacts, arguing they are protected national historical pieces.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said Wednesday that Mexico has sent a diplomatic note to the French government seeking assistance in heading off the auction scheduled in Paris for Friday and Saturday.

It also implied that some of the artifacts offered in what is known as the 300-piece Barbier-Mueller Collection of Pre-Columbian Art are fakes or imitations.

“Of the 130 objects advertised as being from Mexico, 51 are archaeological artifacts that are (Mexican) national property, and the rest are handicrafts,” the institute said in a statement.

Still, the genuine pieces are important to Mexico.

“In light of their importance for the people of Mexico, the director of the auction company has been asked to withdraw the pieces from sale,” the institute said.

Sotheby’s issued a statement Thursday saying it “has had dialogue with several nations and given careful consideration to their concerns about this sale, and we continue to welcome discussion regarding any new information on specific issues.”

The auction house said that over six months, it “thoroughly researched the provenance of this collection and we are confident in offering these works for auction.”

Sophie Dufresne, Sotheby’s spokeswoman in Paris, said: “The sale is going forward as planned.”

A description of the pieces listed on Sotheby’s Paris website describes the collection as containing pre-Hispanic sculptures in wood and stone, ceramics, textiles and ritual objects from Mexico, Central America and South America, saying the collection is “representative of all the leading pre-Columbian cultures.”

The Sotheby’s website says the collection was started by Josef Mueller in 1920. “He became attracted by important works of pre-Columbian art, his first purchase being an Aztec ‘water goddess’ in Paris in 1920,” it says.

The description says Mueller’s son-in-law, Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller, augmented and broadened the collection.

While Sotheby’s described Barbier-Mueller as “a great aesthete and man of culture,” Mexico said such collections trivialize archaeological pieces.

“The Mexican government has consistently expressed its objections to the international trade in protected cultural objects, particularly archaeological artifacts, and stresses that such practices strip these unique objects of their invaluable cultural, historical and symbolic essence, converting them into mere merchandise and curios,” the institute said.

Under a 1972 law, Mexico prohibited the purchase and sale of archaeological pieces, but allowed some previously existing collections to remain in private hands if they were registered with the government.

While the French collection may have been assembled prior to that time, Mexico has had laws prohibiting the export of such artifacts since at least 1827.

Photos of the artifacts on the Sotheby’s site show two seated depictions of godlike figures carved in stone that appear to come from Mexican pre-Hispanic cultures. The description says the collection contains Aztec, Mayan and Tarascan pieces.

A French diplomatic official said that nothing in the collection up for auction is on the French database checked by the Central Office of Cultural Property. Nor are any of the items in the Interpol database or on the “red list” of the International Council of Museums for cultural property of Central America and Mexico .

The diplomatic official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be named, said these objects have often been shown publicly and mentioned in various catalogues since September.

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Associated Press Writers Greg Keller and Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report

Works by artist Basquiat to appear at NYC exhibit (Associated Press)

Basquiat

Associated Press – Thu, Apr 18, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — More than 30 works by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (zhahn mee-SHEHL’ BAH’-skee-aht) will appear at a New York City exhibit before a private sale.

The exhibit at Sotheby’s galleries runs May 2 through June 9. Most will be available for sale.

They include works on paper in marker and crayon from 1979 and monumental canvases from 1987.

The Brooklyn-born Basquiat was 27 when he died of a drug overdose in 1988.

Among the highlights is “Punch Bag” from 1983 depicting a black boxer. It’s been owned by a European collector since the late 1990s.

Colorful canvas “Love Dub for A” from 1987 has been offered for sale only once before.

The auction record for a Basquiat is “Untitled,” a painting of a black fisherman that sold for $26.4 million in November.

Munch’s ‘The Scream’ may fetch $80M at NYC auction

By ULA ILNYTZKY | Associated Press – Wed, May 2, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — One of the art world’s most recognizable images — Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” — could sell for $80 million or more when it is auctioned at Sotheby’s on Wednesday.

The 1895 pastel of a man holding his head and screaming under a streaked, blood-red sky has become a modern symbol for human anxiety, popularized in movies and plastered on everything from mugs to Halloween masks.

It is one of four versions created by the Norwegian expressionist painter. Three are in Norwegian museums; the one at Sotheby’s is the only one left in private hands. It is being sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and patron of the artist.

A price tag of $80 million would be among the highest for an artwork at auction. The record is $106.5 million for Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust,” sold in 2010 by Christie’s in New York.

The image has become part of pop culture, “used by everyone from Warhol to Hollywood to cartoons to teacups and T-shirts to whatever else,” said Michael Frahm of the London-based art advisory service firm Frahm Ltd.

“Together with the Mona Lisa, it’s the most famous and recognized image in art history,” he added.

Sotheby’s said its pastel-on-board version of “The Scream” is the most colorful and vibrant of the four and the only version whose frame was hand-painted by the artist to include his poem, detailing the work’s inspiration.

In the poem, Munch described himself “shivering with anxiety” and said he felt “the great scream in nature.”

Proceeds from the sale will go for the establishment of a new museum, art center and hotel in Hvitsten, Norway, where Olsen’s father and Munch were neighbors.

“I have lived with this work all my life, and its power and energy have only increased with time,” Olsen said in February. “Now, however, I feel the moment has come to offer the rest of the world a chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work.”

“It has historical importance … it helped move art history from impressionism to expressionism,” Frahm said of “The Scream.”

He predicted that “we’re going to see a new world record for a piece sold at auction.” Frahm said the sale will show that great quality artworks can still come up for sale; that the top end of the market is driving further away from the rest of the market and that it’s a global market now where Asia and the Middle East are playing a more significant role than Europe and America.

But figuring out who might buy it is trickier.

“This could really be someone who just wants to own the most iconic piece of art to come up at auction ever,” Frahm said, adding that it could be the Qatari royal family, one of the world’s biggest art buyers.

The director of the National Museum in Oslo, Audun Eckhoff, says Norwegian authorities approved the Munch sale since the other versions of the composition are in Norwegian museums. One version is owned by the National Museum and two others by the Munch Museum, also in Oslo.

Sotheby’s said a total of eight works have sold for $80 million or more at auction.

Only two other works besides Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust” have sold for more than $100 million at auction. Those are Picasso’s “Boy With a Pipe (The Young Apprentice)” for $104.1 million in 2004 and Alberto Giacometti’s “Walking Man I” for $104.3 million in 2010.

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Online: http://www.sothebys.com

FILE - This undated photo provided by Sotheby's shows "The Scream" by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch. The work, which dates from 1895 and is one of four versions of the composition, will lead Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in New York on May 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Sotheby's, File)