The $15 million or £9.5 million estimate for Georgia O’Keeffe’s work was shattered after a rather intense bidding war between two rivals. ‘Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1’, a 1932 painting of a simple white flower, was finally bought after the flurry by an unnamed buyer with a telephone bid at Sotheby’s auction house.
The floral painting by the late US artist has sold for $44.4 million or £28.8 million at auction; this has set a record for an artwork by a female artist. The piece smashes the previous record of $11.9 million or £7.5 million for an untitled work by Joan Mitchell, which was set in set in May. The work was put up for sale by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in New Mexico, after the need arose to raise proceeds for its acquisitions fund.
The highest auction price for an O’Keeffe work had previously stood at $6.2 million or £3.9 million for a sale at Christie’s in 2001. The art auction record is $142.4 million or £90.8 million for an infamous work by Francis Bacon. The British artist’s triptych, Three Studies of Lucien Freud, that was sold at auction last year.
Georgia O’Keeffe, who died in 1986 at the age of 98, was widely regarded for her large-format depictions of flowers which she painted as if they had been seen in macro.
The painting had been with O’Keeffe’s sister, Anita O’Keeffe Young, until around 1966. The work has appeared at auction twice before, at Sotheby’s New York in December 1987, when it sold for $990,000 or £632,000 which was just above its estimate, and again at Sotheby’s New York in December 1994, when was sold for $1,047,500, or £669,000 whichh was a mere fraction over its higher estimate of $1 million.