- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in New Mexico said Friday it will sell three works by the American modernist painter to benefit its acquisitions fund.

Going on the auction block is one of O’Keeffe’s most well-known flower paintings - “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1.” The painting is expected to fetch as much as $15 million when Sotheby’s offers it as the centerpiece of its American art sale in New York in November.

The other two works are “On the Old Santa Fe Road” and “Untitled (Skunk Cabbage).” Those paintings are expected to bring in $3.7 million combined.

The larger-than-life image of the white bloom of the jimson weed will be on view in Los Angeles and Hong Kong before returning to New York for the auction.

“It’s a difficult sacrifice to let it go, but that’s part of the reason it was selected,” said Cody Hartley, the Santa Fe museum’s director of curatorial affairs. “We tried to select the ones that have strong appeal in the market so we could get the best result possible.”

Hartley explained that auctioning the pieces will substantially boost the museum’s acquisitions endowment as well as the museum’s ability to be more competitive when pursuing iconic O’Keeffe works that aren’t already part of the collection.

The current auction record for an O’Keeffe work is $6.2 million, set at Christie’s New York in May 2001.

Museum officials said the decision to put the works up for auction included a thoughtful process that has taken more than a year. The auction is supported by the donor and was unanimously approved by the museum’s board of directors.

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Follow Susan Montoya Bryan on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/susanmbryanNM

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