O’Keeffe’s $44.4 Million Flower Is Female Auction Record

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A Georgia O’Keeffe painting of a white flower set an auction record for a work by a female artist by selling for $44.4 million at Sotheby’s.

“Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1” sold today for almost three times the work’s high estimate of $15 million, the New York-based auction house said in a statement. Seven bidders vied for the painting, and the winner was Lisa Dennison, chairwoman of Sotheby’s North and South America, on behalf of an anonymous client, Sotheby’s said.

The previous auction record for any work by a woman was $11.9 million, set by Joan Mitchell for an untitled painting at Christie’s in New York in May. O’Keeffe’s previous auction record was $6.2 million, set at Christie’s in New York in May 2001.

“Jimson Weed,” an oil on canvas from 1932 of a close-up white flower with lush green leaves, was sold by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to benefit its acquisitions fund, Sotheby’s said.

The painting had been loan to the White House in Washington from September 2002 to December 2008, and has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the auction house said.

Today’s auction of American art totaled $75.4 million, surpassing its $46 million high estimate, Sotheby’s said. Ten lots sold for more than $1 million each. In addition to “Jimson Weed,” the museum sold two other works by O’Keeffe, including one for $5.1 million.

A painting by Childe Hassam called “Shingling the First Baptist Church,” showing a church in a small harbor town, more than doubled its high estimate, selling for $3.5 million, the top auction price for the artist in five years, Sotheby’s said. The work had remained in the same family collection since 1970.