New York, May 7 : "The Scream," one of the most recognizable paintings in the world, which sold this week at Sotheby's for 120 million dollars, could have been destroyed by the Nazis had it not been hidden in a Norwegian barn when they invaded in 1940, it has been revealed.
New York fine-art dealer Edward Tyler Nahem, a close friend of the work's now-ex-owner, Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, has revealed that Olsen's father hid "The Scream" in a barn on his farm just before the German invasion in 1940.
Olsen's father, a friend and patron of painter Edvard Munch, and his family escaped Norway. "The Scream" remained undiscovered by the invaders, hidden until his family returned in 1945.
"The Nazis considered Munch to be a degenerate artist. During the war, the Nazis purged a lot of art from museums and private collections. Some of the art was destroyed. One could speculate that `The Scream' could have been destroyed," the New York Post quoted Nahem as saying.
"War broke out, and Petter's parents and his brother, Fred, [before Petter was born] fled to England and later came to New York, where they bought Timex, which the family still owns. They returned after the war and recovered the works.
"One Christmas night in the early 1980s, while sitting fireside in the living room at that same farm, my friend's mother relayed the harrowing flight she and her husband made with the king [of Norway] to escape the advancing German army.
"She feared for her family, for the king, for Norway and for a few canvases that spoke volumes about the state of the world and the artist who dared express it. As she regaled us with her tale, `The Scream' was hanging in her home outside of Oslo," Nahem, who dined with Olsen at Cafe Boulud after Wednesday's sale, recalled.
Nahem said selling the work was an "emotional moment" for Olsen.
" `The Scream' has been in his family for 75 years, but as I said to him over dinner, my view is that in the end we are just guardians and the artworks outlive us and move on," he stated. (ANI)