Georgia O’Keeffe Painting Sets Auction Record For Female Artist With $44.4 Million

A classic flower painting by Georgia O’keeffe, “Jimson Weed (White Flower No. 1),” has sold for $44.4 million at Sotheby’s in New York, which is nearly three times its $15 million high estimate. This is also the highest price ever recorded for an artwork by a woman at the auction house.

According to the International Business Times, the floral painting which was done by O’keeffe in 1932, was bought by an anonymous bidder after an “intense bidding war” between two rivals.

Officials at Sotheby’s stated that at least seven bidders went after the painting – and the buyer, who bid by telephone through Lisa Dennison, a chairwoman at the auction house, wishes to remain anonymous.

O’keeffe’s painting smashed the previous record for the price of an artwork by a female artist – which was an untitled work by Joan Mitchell that sold for $11.9 million in May.

The Independent reports that the highest record for a male artist is $140.82 million, which was for Francis Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucien Freud.”

The painting was put up for sale by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in order to raise money for its acquisitions fund.

O’keeffe’s painting had previously belonged to her sister, Anita O’Keeffe Young, and for six years had hung in the private dining room in the White House during the George W. Bush administration. It has also been exhibited around the United States, as well as in London and Mexico City.

“Jimson Weed (White Flower No. 1)” was sold twice before by Sotheby’s — first in 1987, when it was included in property from the estate of Anita and went for $990,000, and again in 1994, for $1 million.

Georgia O’Keeffe, who made northern New Mexico her permanent home in 1949, died in 1986 at the age of 98 — and was known as the ‘Mother of American modernism’ for her close-up, phallic paintings of flowers.

O’Keeffe believed passionately that we could see the beauty of the world in flowers, with the Jimson Weed being particularly alluring.

The 17-year-old museum decided to sell three paintings from its collection of 1,149 works by O’keeffe. Before the sale, its director, Robert A Kret, is said to have stated that “The museum holds half the artist’s output throughout her life. But still there are gaps that need to be filled.”

[Image via BBC]