Walton Keen on O'Keeffe

Bentonville, AR -- Late last year, the $15 million or £9.5 million estimate for Georgia O'Keeffe's work at auction was shattered after a rather intense bidding war between two unknown rivals.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network were curious to learn the identity of this stellar bidder.

'Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1', a 1932 painting of a simple white flower, was finally bought after the flurry by an unnamed buyer with a telephone bid at Sotheby’s auction house.

The floral painting by the late US artist sold for $44.4 million at auction. This set a record for an artwork by a female artist. The auction of the work smashed 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 been $6.2 million for a sale at Christie's in 2001.

The published world record for a single work of art -- via public auction or private transaction -- is for a painting by Paul Gauguin, after a member of the Qatar Royal family privately paid the huge sum of $300 million for the 1892 artwork titled 'Nafea Faa Ipoipo'.

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.

Now it has been revealed that the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, is responsible for last year's record-breaking Georgia O'Keeffe sale, as well as a major Jasper Johns purchase.

The museum is founded and primarily funded by Alice Walton, pictured above, who opened it in late 2011 after a flurry of major, high-priced American art purchases by the Walmart heiress. Walton is the world's third richest woman with a fortune estimated at $21 billion.

A number of these acquisitions remained a secret until the museum's public unveiling, a lack of transparency by the new museum that upset many professionals in the art world.

The sale clearly cemented O'Keeffe's place at the top of the marketplace for female artists.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video interviews collector, Alice Walton, in the bucolic setting of her own childhood backyard, i.e., Crystal Bridges campus. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ca8FLZlu08&sns=em