SANTA FE (KRQE) – A Santa Fe museum could soon be more than $10 million richer. That’s if one of its most famous paintings, inspired by New Mexico’s landscape, sells for as much as experts expect it to in an auction later this year.
She’s one of New Mexico’s most famous artists, known for her desert landscapes and floral designs.
“She’s so important to New Mexico and she’s so important to American art,” said Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Chief Curator Cody Hartley.
The late Georgia O’Keeffe created more than 2,000 pieces of art. Half of them are at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, but some not for long.
“At the November sale at Sotheby’s auction house in New York we will be selling three paintings,” said Hartley.
Up for grabs are “On the Old Santa Fe Road”, “Untitled (Skunk Cabbage) and “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1.”
“Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1” is one of O’Keeffe’s most sought after works. It was previously owned by O’Keeffe’s sister. It was hung in the White House for six-years before it was eventually donated to the museum.
“It’s a very recognizable painting. It’s one of her iconic flower images,” said Hartley.
Which is why experts expect the painting to sell for between $10 and $15 million at a New York auction in November.
“It truly is a sacrifice to let it go, but for the future of our collection it will enable us to be much more active in the market,” said Hartley.
Hartley says the museum already has paintings that look like the three up for sale.
He says with the money they make off them, the museum will be able to buy new and unusual O’Keeffe works.
“This is about being able to proactively build a vital dynamic collection and ensure that guests to our gallery see new and exciting things,” he said.
While many are sad to see the images go, they say it’s OK.
“I really think Georgia would approve, I really do,” said Becky Laremore.
The other two paintings are expected to bring in about $3 million combined.
The most an O’Keeffe painting has ever been sold for is $6.2 million.