April 30 - Edvard Munch's ''The Scream'' is at much of the chatter this spring art auction season. Sotheby's and Christie's are hoping for a better sale of impressionist and modern art after last year's results were at the low-end to slightly below pre-sale estimates. Conway G. Gittens reports.
This year's spring art auction season is expected to be a scream. The sale of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is the lead in Sotheby's sale of impressionist and modern art, to be held on May 2. The painting is expected to sell for at least $80 million. David Norman of Sotheby's: SOUNDBITE: DAVID NORMAN, SOTHEBY'S, WORLDWIDE, CO-CHAIRMAN OF IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN ART DEPARTMENT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "From the standpoint of the auction, it is the only one that could ever be sold. It's the only one of the four that is in private hands. It is also the only piece that is in the artist's original frame. There's a plaque at the bottom which in his own handwriting describes the moment when he conceived this piece." The sale could make for a better season than last year's. There are 76 works of art up in this auction, which could bring in at least $250 million, according to early estimates, up from 2011's low-end take of nearly $171 million dollars. A collection of art from the late New York financier Ted Forstmann is also a highlight of the Sotheby's sale. SOUNDBITE: DAVID NORMAN, SOTHEBY'S, WORLDWIDE, CO-CHAIRMAN OF IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN ART DEPARTMENT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The lead painting, most valuable in that is a Picasso of his lover Dora Maar, estimated at 20 to 30 million dollars." Christie's kicks-off its auction the night before. Under the hammer are six works by Picasso, as well as a Matisse, a Monet, and a rediscovered masterpiece by Cezanne. Brooke Lampley of Christie's expects the Cezanne to command millions. SOUNDBITE: BROOKE LAMPLEY, CHRISTIE'S, NEW YORK, HEAD OF IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN ART DEPARTMENT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The record for a Cezanne watercolor is actually $25.5 million. So we consider this estimate, for what is a watercolor related to perhaps the most important and famous series in the artist's career, and not only in the artist's career, a series widely regarding by art historians to be epochal in the history of modern art, to be quite reasonable, 15 to 20 and we hope it will sell for more." The 32-lot sale is expected to fetch more than $100 million, which would be down from the lower-than-expected $156 million purse last year. Conway Gittens, Reuters