(Reuters) – U.S. billionaire Leon Black is the mystery buyer who paid a record $120 million (77.3 million pounds) for Edvard Munch’s masterpiece “The Scream” at Sotheby’s in May, the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction, the Wall Street Journal said on Wednesday.
Citing several sources close to Black, a New York businessman and avid art collector, the newspaper said his intentions for the iconic painting and whether it would be loaned to a museum were unclear.
A spokesman for Sotheby’s declined to comment on the report. Black could not be reached and his spokesman also declined to comment.
Black, the lead partner of Apollo Global Management and No. 330 on Forbes list of billionaires, sits on the boards of both the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art.
A Sotheby executive took the winning bid at the May 2nd sale in New York. It was one of an initial group of seven bidders who drove the price up during a feverish auction.
“The Scream,” Munch’s masterpiece from 1895 depicting a bald figure with hands pressed to the head and swirling colours in the background, is one of the world’s most famous paintings. Three other versions, including two that were stolen and later recovered, are in museums in Norway.
(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Paul Simao)