The much-discussed Sotheby’s auction of Munch’s “The Scream” happened last night and, while it didn’t sell for $200 million, it did break records at $120 million. Before last night, the most expensive piece of art to be sold at auction was a measly $106.5 million, for a Picasso: “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust.”

Last night’s sell took 12 minutes, and, at the $100 million dollar mark, the audience began to applaud, according to reports. This is not only nasty generally, but particularly tasteless considering the demonstration just outside the auction. With signs reading “Sotheby’s: Bad for Art” as a caption for the image of “The Scream,” protesters were out in full force. They were protesting the nine-month lockout the auction house has levied against art handlers. Sotheby’s, who brought in an estimated commission of $10 million for hosting the auction, wants to break up a union of art handlers and deny them health insurance. Yates McKee, a protester, said of the auction, “It exemplifies the ways in which objects of artistic creativity become the exclusive province of the 1%.”

As for the person who now calls “The Scream” his or her own: a mysterious voice on the phone. Hey, who knows, maybe it was Jerry Saltz… but probably not. (Photo: Frank Franklin II)