22/02/2012 03:30 GMT | Updated 22/04/2012 06:12 BST

Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' To Be Auctioned

A version of Edvard Munch's masterpiece The Scream is to go on display in London in April before being auctioned in New York the following month.

The work, one of the most instantly recognisable images in both art history and popular culture, goes on display at Sotheby's in London on 13 April.

It is to be auctioned at the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in New York on May 2, where it is expected to fetch 80 million US dollars (£50.4 million) or more.

One of the four versions of the composition, it was created in 1895, and is the only one still in private hands, being owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father Thomas was a friend, neighbour and patron of Munch.

The defining image of the Expressionist movement, The Scream stands as a pivotal work in the history of art. Munch created the image in the mid-1890s as the central element of his Frieze of Life series.

The powerfully rendered, blood-red sky presents the viewer with the reality of Munch's experience at the moment he is gripped by anxiety in the hills above Oslo.

"Munch's The Scream is the defining image of modernity, and it is an immense privilege for Sotheby's to be entrusted with one of the most important works of art in private hands," said Simon Shaw, senior vice president.

"Given how rarely true icons come to the market it is difficult to predict The Scream's value. The recent success of masterpieces at Sotheby's suggests that the price could exceed 80 million dollars."

Mr Olsen said: "I have lived with this work all my life, and its power and energy have only increased with time.

"Now, however, I feel the moment has come to offer the rest of the world a chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work, which is the only version of The Scream not in the collection of a Norwegian museum.

"My father Thomas Olsen was a friend of Munch, and acquired The Scream as well as many other works by the artist. He hoped that his collection would further Munch's international renown by lending to exhibitions abroad. In that tradition, proceeds from this sale will go toward the establishment of a new museum, art centre and hotel on my farm Ramme Gaard at Hvitsten, Norway."