5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About "The Scream"

On May 7, 1994, Norway’s most famous painting, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch, was recovered almost three months after it was stolen from a museum in Oslo. To celebrate this anniversary, here are five things you didn't know about one of the most famous paintings in the world...


The Thieves Left a Thank You Note On the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer on February 12, 1994, most people were busy watching the games, so the streets were fairly empty when the painting was stolen from the National Gallery during daylight hours.  The security around The Scream was more than lax. Adding insult to injury, the thieves left a polite note saying, “Thanks for the poor security.”  The painting was recovered three months later, and four men stood trial for the robbery. However, a legal technicality meant all four were later released without charge.

“The Scream” Isn’t a Single Piece of Art While we all probably assume that The Scream is a standalone painting, it's actually only one of four pieces. In 1893, the Norwegian artist made a painted version as well as a crayon piece. A pastel version was then created two years later, followed by another format using tempera paints in 1910, marking the final piece.


"The Scream" Was Not Its Original Name "The Scream" seems so fitting for this piece of artwork, but it actually wasn't the original name of the painting. Before the final name was chosen, Munch intended to name the piece The Scream of Nature. The name came from a poem he wrote in 1895, which depicts a man suffering melancholy while trekking through a frightening scene filled with a blood-red sky, black fjord, and tongues of fire. The poem ends with the phrase, "I felt the great Scream in Nature."

It Inspired The Mask Of Wes Craven's Scream Killer Wes Craven's hit thriller film "Scream" involved a mysterious character disguised wearing a black grim reaper-like robe and white face mask that eerily resembles that of the person featured in Munch's famous painting. There's a reason why the two are similar: Craven admits that the mask was inspired by what he calls one of his favorite works of art.

Two Million M&M's Were Offered As A Reward For Its Return Art thieves targeted another version of the painting at the Munch Museum in 2004, but this time the thieves stole “The Scream” and “Madonna.” The candy bar company Mars, Inc. decided to get involved in the recovery efforts as a way to market its new dark chocolate M&M's. The company offered a reward of 2 million dark chocolate M&M’s for the return of the stolen paintings. It apparently worked, because days later, a prisoner entered a plea deal with law enforcement. The location of the painting would be revealed in exchange for conjugal visits and the candy. When the painting was recovered, Mars decided the police on the case deserved the candy instead. In the end, the police decided that the cash value of the prize — $26,000 — should be given to the Munch Museum.