Sotheby’s announced this morning that it will auction three iconic works from the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at its upcoming fall sale of American art on November 20. These include one of O’Keeffe’s most iconic flower paintings, Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1, which is estimated at $10–15 million, indicating that auction experts expect the price to far exceed her current auction record of $6.2 million, set at Christie’s New York back in 2001.
In a sign of Sotheby’s extensive marketing efforts for the work, it is sending the painting to Los Angeles and Hong Kong for public viewings ahead of the New York sale. Elizabeth Goldberg, head of Sotheby’s American art department told the New York Times that she expects the painting to have wide appeal both on a geographic level as well as outside the typically narrower parameters of American collectors. The rich, vibrant image may well draw interest from Impressionist and modern, as well as contemporary art collectors.
The other two works to be offered from the museum, which plans to put the proceeds in its acquisitions fund, are On the Old Santa Fe Road, which has an estimate of $2–3 million, and Untitled (Skunk Cabbage), which is estimated at $500,000–700,000. Cody Hartley, director of curatorial affairs at the O’Keeffe Museum, said “letting go of these pieces is a sacrifice, and we do not take this decision lightly. We are fortunate to have equally strong examples of similar subjects.” Hartley said the sale provides an “opportunity to substantially fund an acquisitions endowment that will allow us to be competitive when pursuing iconic O’Keeffe masterworks.”
Under most museum association guidelines, institutions are permitted to sell works only when the proceeds are directed towards acquisitions of other works that support the museum’s mission.
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