A version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” one of the most recognizable images in art history, sold at Sotheby’s on Wednesday night for just under $120 million, the most ever paid for a painting at auction. Five bidders competed for the work, which sold to a telephone bidder.

Munch made four versions of “The Scream,” three of which are now in Norwegian museums; the one that sold on Wednesday, a pastel on board from 1895, was the only one still in private hands. It was sold by Petter Olsen, a Norwegian businessman and shipping heir whose father was a friend, neighbor and patron of the artist.

“The Scream” has been reproduced endlessly in popular culture in recent decades, making it nearly as famous as the Mona Lisa.

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