Georgia O'Keeffe painting fetches $55.5 million, a new auction record for a female artist

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 which sold at a Sotheby's New York auction for US$44.4 million on Nov 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 which sold at a Sotheby's New York auction for US$44.4 million on Nov 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM

NEW YORK (AFP) - A painting by late American artist Georgia O'Keeffe sold for more than US$44.4 million (S$55.5 million) in New York on Thursday, which Sotheby's called a new auction world record for any female artist.

Sotheby's said the previous auction record for a work by a female artist was US$11.9 million, set by US abstract painter Joan Mitchell's Untitled at rival auction house Christie's in New York in May.

The O'Keefe work had been valued before the sale at US$15 million but Sotheby's said it was driven to more than US$44.4 million by a prolonged battle between two determined bidders.

O'Keeffe is considered one of the most significant artists of the 20th century and was a prominent avant-garde artist in New York. She spent much of her life in New Mexico and died in 1986. The previous auction record for one of her works was US$6.2 million.

O'Keeffe was celebrated for her flower paintings. Her Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 oil on canvas was one of three works offered at auction by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The record for the most expensive piece of art sold at auction is US$142.4 million paid last year for a Francis Bacon triptych - Three Studies of Lucian Freud.