In November 2014 the $15 million, or £9.5 million estimate for a Georgia O’Keeffe 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 by a then-unnamed buyer with a telephone bid at Sotheby’s auction house. The floral painting by the late US artist sold for $44.4 million, or £28.8 million at auction, setting a record for an artwork by a female artist.
Now Sotheby’s annual American art auction this May will have Georgia O’Keeffe’s White Calla Lily, with an estimate of $8 to $12 million, as its star lot.
The announcement of this offer of White Calla Lily comes on the heels of O’Keeffe’s previous record sale. Now the question is, will this Lily painting break another auction record?, given that the artist’s previous price-tag was something of a surprise. If this painting does sell at its high estimate ($12 million, or £7.9 million) it will surpass the second-highest price for a female artist, $11.9 million (£7.8 million), for an untitled Joan Mitchell canvas from 1960, which was set at Christie’s in May 2014.
White Calla Lily, which was painted in 1927 and remained with O’Keeffe until her death in 1986, has been in a private collection for more than two decades. The work was acquired by the present owner in 1994 and has not been on public display since its purchase, Sotheby’s has stated.
The artist’s last major museum retrospective was at the Whitney Museum of American Art in autumn of 1970. Her work is also currently on view at the Whitney’s inaugural exhibition, “America Is Hard To See,”. Sotheby’s spring auction of American art takes place 20 May, 2015.