Sotheby’s New York auction house made international headlines last week, selling Edvard Much’s painting “The Scream” for a record $119.9 million. But few stories mentioned what was happening outside the auction: picketing by 150 artists, activists, and locked-out art handlers.
“Tonight, the irony persists,” said Sotheby’s worker Julian Tysh. “Sotheby’s is selling a copy of the scream – an artful interpretation of human anguish and suffering – and they’re going to profit tremendously tonight, while at the same time they continue to create anguish and suffering among their own workforce.”
Tysh and 41 of his co-workers have been locked out since August 1, a month before Occupy Wall Street first occupied Zuccotti Park. Among labor stuggles, the lockout has drawn some of the earliest, and longest-running, Occupy support. Occupy’s involvement has inspired workers, upped the pressure on Sotheby’s, and amplified media attention – though it hasn’t yet yielded a victory.