O'Keeffe Flower Wilts Records

New York City -- The $15 million estimate for Georgia O'Keeffe's work was shattered Thursday after an intense bidding war between several rivals.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network were in the room to view this fantastic floral feud.

'Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1' -- a 1932 painting of a simple white flower -- was finally bought for $44.4 million, after a flurry of bidding at Sotheby’s auction house.

At least seven bidders went after the painting, officials at Sotheby’s said. The buyer, bidding by telephone through Lisa Dennison, a chairwoman at the auction house, wishes to remain anonymous.

The record is now newly set for an artwork by a female artist. The piece smashes the previous record of $11.9 million for an untitled work by Joan Mitchell, which was set in set in May.

The work was put up for sale by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in New Mexico, after the need arose to raise proceeds for its acquisitions fund.

The highest auction price for an O'Keeffe work had previously stood at $6.2 million for a sale at Christie's in 2001.

The overall art auction record is $142.4 million for an infamous work by Francis Bacon. The British artist's triptych, Three Studies of Lucien Freud, that was sold at auction last year to Las Vegas casino magnate, Elaine Wynn.

Georgia O'Keeffe, who died in 1986 at the age of 98, was widely regarded for her large-format depictions of flowers which she painted as if they had been seen in macro.

The painting had been with O'Keeffe's sister, Anita O'Keeffe Young, until around 1966. Thereafter it was re-sold twice by Sotheby's.

The first transaction occurred in December 1987, when it sold for $990,000 during the liquidation of the estate of O'Keeffe's sister. This was just above its estimate. The second sale was in December 1994, when it was sold for $1,047,500, a mere fraction over its higher estimate of $1 million.

For six years it was loaned to the private dining room in the White House during the George W. Bush administration.

Robert Kret, director of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, NM, which was the painting's most recent owner, announced the institution's decision to sell the work earlier this year.

In an attempt to "refine its holdings," Kret and a team of curators opted to put "Jimson Weed," “On the Old Santa Fe Road,” and “Untitled (Skunk Cabbage)" on the auction block.

They were expected to fetch, respectively, $10 million to $15 million, $2 million to $3 million and $500,000 to $750,000. "Jimson Weed" alone managed to quadruple the low end estimate.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video provides an in-depth look at O'Keeffe's record-smashing masterpiece. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-p2gPccG3zU&sns=em