Munch prices “driven up by thefts”

According to auctioneers, works by Edvard Munch have significantly increased in price as a direct result of the 2004 robbery of the artist’s The Scream and Madonna. In May, Munch’s Girls on a Bridge, 1902, sold for $30.8m at Sotheby’s, tripling the painter’s previous auction record. The same work was sold in 1996 for $7.7m. “[Munch’s] works got a lot of attention from the robbery at the Munch Museum in 2004. Attention always drives prices up,” said Knut Forsberg, director of Blomqvist auctions in Oslo. Richard Elgheim, managing director of Grev Wedels Plass Auksjoner (GWPA) in Norway, also believes the theft bolstered prices. “Price increases are especially strong since 2005 and at least partly linked to the robbery,” he said. Since 2000, GWPA has held an annual Munch auction, selling 20 to 40 works by the artist a year. Inger Astrup, Sotheby’s Oslo representative, was more cautious, saying she believed “important exhibitions and the Olsen Sale [the auction of Munchs by the shipping entrepreneur Fred Olsen in February 2006]” were more significant factors than the thefts C.B.

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