The only privately owned version of "The Scream", by the Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, set a world record in May 2012 when it sold for $119.9 million.
But the record was beaten in New York on Tuesday night, when an unknown buyer bid nearly $70m above the pre-sale estimate to snap up "Three Studies of Lucian Freud", a three-panelled painting by the Irish-born artist Francis Bacon.
The painting shows the painter's friend and fellow London artist Lucian Freud sitting on a chair.
The bidder, who has not been named, made his bids over the phone in what became a marathon six-hour auction.
Bidding for the Scream lasted just 12 minutes before the auctioneer brought down the hammer.
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"The Scream" was sold by Norwegian shipping magnate Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and patron of the artist.
Other paintings which have beaten the $100m mark include Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust," which sold for $106.5 million in 2010, Picasso's "Boy with a Pipe", which sold for $104.1 million in 2004, and Alberto Giacometti's "Walking Man" sculpture which fetched $104.3 million in 2010.