Leon Black, the New York Financier who is Apollo Global’s Chairman and CEO, was revealed as being the mystery purchaser of the Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ for a cool $120 million. The price broke the previous $100 million benchmark for Sotherby’s.
The art world was held in thrall for 12 minutes on 2nd May as Sotherby’s New York auctioned off one of the four of Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’; the only copy ever to come to auction. On the phone to Leon Black was Charles Moffet, Sotherby’s executive vice president, who reportedly smiled when the gavel
finally fell, gave a whispered congratulations to the then unknown Black and hung up. The auctioneer, Tobias Meyer, also had the packed room chuckling when the bidding crossed the record $100 million mark, as he announced “can I say I love you” to the then mysterious buyer.
Black’s spending in the art world is said have transformed the international art market in recent years, along with other billionaire buyers. His collection is said to worth $750 million. His impressive and varied collection is housed in his home, dealers descriptions of his Park Avenue apartment describe it as practically brimming with an eclectic mix of art styles from an array of periods.
Black’s interest in art derives from his mother and aunt, who was an art dealer. He has has always been more interested in sketches, which he started collecting at an early age but has an array of paintings and sculptures in his collection.
The appeal of “the Scream” is not difficult to understand. Munch created four versions of the work. The one Black purchased is the first to ever come up in auction and not to be held in an Oslo museum. It was sold by a Mr Petter Olsen, a Norwegian real estate developer and shipping heir. He has close family connections to Munch as his father was his neighbour. The funds from the sale are intended to be used to fund a new hotel and a museum of Munch’s work near the Norwegian fjord where the artist worked.