Strong sales at Sotheby’s American Art but misses estimates


Detail of White Calla Lily by Georgia O Keefe. Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Sotheby’s sold art worth $38.3 million at its American Art on sale on May 20, below its high estimate of $39.7 million. Although some 60% of selling lots exceeded their high estimates.

The highlight of the auction was Georgia O’Keefe’s ‘White Calla Lily’. The almost monochromatic flower oil painting, is a prime example of O’Keefe’s main subject matter flower, sold for $8.9 million which makes it the second highest sale price for her work. The current record for O’Keefe’s work is $44.4 million for ‘Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1’ which was sold at Sotheby’s in November last year, this sale marked the current record for any female artist at auction.

“We strive to offer the highest-quality examples we can find, across a broad range of property and price points,” said Elizabeth Goldberg, head of Sotheby’s American Art department. “Often that unearths really exceptional works by artists that you rarely – if ever – see at auction. Those elements of surprise attract both established and new collectors to our sales, and today’s results are a direct testament to that.”

Three works by Milton Avery sold for $5.5 million in total. There were five new artists records achieved in the auction.

American Illustration sold well with several pieces reaching well over their estimate. Norman Rockwell’s ‘The Bookworm’ sold for $3.8 million; over an estimate of $1.5 to $2.5 million. Maxfield Parrish’s ‘Two Cooks and a Haggis’ sold for $1.5 million; well over its high estimate of $500,000.