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Who Will Buy ‘The Scream’?

One of the art world's most iconic images, "The Scream" by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, will be coming to auction at Sotheby's next week, and the price promises to be high, Simon Shaw told CNBC Friday.

Edvard Munch's The Scream
Getty Images
Edvard Munch's The Scream

It has been the auction house's experience that modern art can fetch $100 million, the head of impressionist and modern art at Sotheby's , told CNBC's "Power Lunch."

The estimated price for this pastel version of "The Scream" is over $80 million, Shaw said, though he added, "only what happens in the auction room Wednesday will tell us what the price really is."

Munch painted four versions of this masterwork, but the other three are in Oslo museums and not lent out after several theft attempts in 1994 and 2004. The stolen paintings were later recovered and have been under tremendous security ever since.

Who will buy this version? Either "one of the world's great [art] institutions" or a "deeply passionate private individual" who wants to add the painting to his or her collection and would likely not turn around and resell it, said Shaw.

The image is based on a poem, which on this version Munch inscribed on a plaque on the bottom of the frame, Shaw said.

"It took a year to turn that [poem] into a picture," he added, and even then he "came back to it on three occasions to get the perfect image."

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