REMIND me not to bet on anything with fewer than four legs.
Aussie bookmaker Tom Waterhouse was betting $1.90 Edvard Munch’s pastel painting The Scream would fetch more than $106.5M at an auction at Sotheby’s auction in New York.
My considered opinion was it would go for a mere pittance, less than, $80M. I was way off.
The Scream went for chump change under $120M.
The winning bid was taken by a Sotheby’s executive, and the bidder was not identified.
One of four versions by Norwegian artist Munch, but the only one in private hands, The Scream easily topped the previous auction record held by Picasso’s Nude, green leaves and bust, which went for a piddling $106.5 million at Christie’s two years ago.
It is reported the sales room at Sotheby’s erupted in applause and cheering when the hammer came down. A few titters of laughter came from those who had read my estimation had paid 50% too much. I believe the laughter was directed at me rather than the buyer.
I could go on about some people having too much money and I will for a bit. Two resolute bidders drew away from the original field of seven to drive the price up by telephone.
Overall, the Sotheby fetched a record $330 million with Picasso’s Femme assise dans un fauteuil, selling for $29.2M; Miro’s Tete humaine taking $14.86M out of someone’s purse and Dali’s Printemps necrophilique, gathering $16.3M in the dead of spring.
Talking of the dead, I made my money today on the annual Grand National Steeplechase at Warnambool, Victoria, here in Australia.
I say dead as the music for the unofficial Aussie national anthem Waltzing Matilda was supposedly the modification of a tune Christina Macpherson heard at this race meeting in 1894. I say dead also in remembrance of the horses and jockeys who have lost their lives during the atavistic sport of jumps racing.
I support the abolition of jumps racing while I will bet on them as long as they continue. You might call that horsey hypocrisy and it would be a good call. As I mentioned in my previous column, we Aussies will bet on two flies crawling up a wall.
Great Britain is the thorn in the side of a world-wide ban on jumps racing. Racetracks there have total programs with jumps racing. Many expensive racehorses run on both the flat and over jumps. The Grand National Steeplechase is an institution.
Banning jumps racehorses would create more reaction than recent attempts to stop the barbaric fox hunting. Oscar Wilde was awake to the essence of that sport more than a century ago. He called it “the unspeakable in pursuit of the edible”.
Without presuming to improve in Wilde, he could have said the “ineffable in pursuit”. The prefix “in’’ can convey emphasis instead of negativity. Extreme ‘’effers” support fox hunting and jumps racing.
For more of my extreme pontifications see 7 Shouts at Google eBooks or Amazon.