"The Scream" could fetch $200 million at auction

Norwegian painter Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is seen in this photo provided by Sotheby's. 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 May 2, 2012.
Norwegian painter Edvard Munch's "The Scream" is seen in this photo provided by Sotheby's.
CBS/AP Photo/Sotheby's

(CBS News) Sotheby's auction house in New York will auction off a 1895 pastel version of "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, one of the four versions of the artwork, on Wednesday. Experts say it could sell for up to $200 million, a world record price for a piece of art.

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But why would anyone pay that much? The artist was a game changer in the art world according to New York Magazine senior art critic Jerry Saltz. Saltz said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning," "(The artwork) seems to be coming directly out of (Munch's) nervous system like some sort of raw nerve, on a bridge, passing from his world to yours, from one world to another world, to one kind of a sunlight to another. And a new psychology is being born. Something that's really familiar, right on the cusp of the most violent century in the history of the world."

However, Saltz called it "disgusting" that people are attaching "this kind of value to (the artwork)." He said, "We're not talking about the work. We're just talking about the money. The money doesn't really mean much because I think this painting had been more or less lost to history. ... Now it's coming up for one night, where everyone will see it, and it will be gone again by tonight, 8:00 tonight. It will become a number, and in a private collection most likely."

The possibility does exist, Saltz said, for the artwork to be put on display in a museum for a time by a private collector. "You could see it for a little bit of time on a museum wall, but my guess is it won't happen," Saltz said. "The person who's selling it is a person from Oslo who says they want to take the $100 million and start their own museum. I would say, just find a way to sell it to a Norwegian museum, put it up there for more Norwegians, it's part of their natural treasure and take the tax breaks, take the $50 million, take care of your parents and be happy."

Saltz said the likely buyer will be someone in a private room from Dubai, Russia or Beijing. He added, "Or Fifth Avenue. Or Mitt Romney - he may be the only American to afford to buy (this expensive artwork.)"

The record price for a work of art is $250 million for an 1895 painting called "The Card Players" by Paul Cezanne. The sale almost doubled the previous record-setter, Jackson Pollack's No. 5, 1948, which fetched $140 million in 2006.

For more with Saltz on the artwork and its meaning, watch the video in the player above.