TORONTO - Heffel Fine Art Auction House celebrated the best in Canadian art with its much anticipated fall auction, held at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto. With 137 lots and hundreds of buyers – either present at the hotel, watching live online or bidding by phone – the evening achieved impressive total sales of $13,416,975 million (all prices are in Canadian dollars and include a 17 per cent buyer's premium).
Leading the evening was The Crazy Stair (The Crooked Staircase) by Emily Carr which commanded $3,393,000, setting multiple auction records: the most ever paid at auction for an Emily Carr painting, the most achieved for the work of a Canadian female artist and the fourth most valuable piece ever sold in Canadian art auction history. This large format painting from Carr’s mature period is indicative of the artist’s lifelong engagement with First Nations culture. Holding special significance, The Crazy Stair was, until tonight, the property of the Vancouver Club who purchased it prior to the creation of the Emily Carr Trust, which houses many of Carr’s works. The estimate of $1,200,000 ‐ $1,600,000 was far exceeded after a lively bidding war ending in a record sale to an anonymous buyer.
“Many of the fine worksoffered today have never been for sale prior,” said David K.J. Heffel, president of Heffel Fine Art Auction House. “The winning collector of Emily Carr’s The Crazy Stair made one last passionate bid and one big boost for the Canadian art market.”
In total, eight Emily Carr pieces were sold during the fall auction.Other notable Carr sales this evening were War Canoes, Alert Bay and Westcoast Sea and Sky, selling for $339,300 and $93,600 respectively.
Inclusive of last night’s sales, Heffel has sold 220 works by Carr, totalling $50,599,444. The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson continue to draw significant attention from buyers and tonight’s sale of Thomson’s Canoe Lake was no exception. Originally expected to bring $400,000 ‐ $600,000, the piece sold well above estimate for $1,696,500. For the first time seen at auction, the piece, a tribute to one of Thomson’s favourite subjects, was originally given to the owner by the artist himself. Thomson’s Autumn, Algonquin Park also sold in tonight’s auction and reached $526,500.
A perennial favourite amongst Canadian art enthusiasts, Jean‐Paul Riopelle’s 1954 work, Sans titre, which was estimated at $500,000 ‐ $700,000, sold for $789,750. The dramatic 78 3/4” x 110 1/4” canvas, Iceberg IV reached $491,400.In total, fiveRiopelle pieces sold in this year’s fall auction and brought an impressive total of $1,825,200.
Additional highlights from this year’s fall auction include:
• One of six William Kurelek pieces sold, the 1971‐dated,Rink Making,achieveda notable $163,800, more than tripling its estimate of $35,000 ‐ $45,000
• Sold for an artist record of $105,300, David Lloyd Blackwood’s Ephraim Kelloway's White Door more than doubled its pre‐auction estimate
• The first‐ever Frederick Alexcee presented at a Heffel auction broke an artist record when Pole Raising at Fort Simpson, BC sold for $128,700 (est. $30,000 ‐ $50,000)
• Bruno Joseph Bobak’s Halifax Harbour set a new Canadian auction record for a Bobak work at $18,720
• Setting a record for a William Hodd (Bill) McElcheran piece at auction, the bronze sculpture Thoughtfulsold for $38,025
• Jack Bush’s dynamic,contemporary piece Off Green, reached $140,400(est. $100,000 ‐ $150,000)
• Karlukwees, BCby W.J. Philips far surpassed the previous record of $35,000 for the sale of a print at auction, reaching $93,600,also making it an artist best
• Sir Frederick Banting,best known as the co‐discoverer of insulin,has also proved to be highly regarded as a painter. His workFrench River sold for $58,500 (estimate $40,000 ‐ $60,000)
• Montreal artist Jean‐Paul Lemieux’s L'évêque en noirreached an impressive $351,000 and signaled the 141st sale of a Lemieux work at a Heffel auction to date
• Hochelaga by March‐Aurele Fortin set a new record for the sale of a pastel, acheiving $46,800
This year’s fall sale marked the tenth anniversary of Heffel’s first live auction in Toronto. Having sold more than a quarter of a billion dollars in Canadian art, Heffel is truly Canada’s national auction house. As the first auction house in Canada to split historical and contemporary Canadian art into separate sales, it remains the only house to produce separate detailed catalogues for each session; Canadian Post‐War & Contemporary Art and Fine Canadian Art. This year’s contemporary session reached more than $4.3 million in sales and the fine art session totaled at $9.2million. The success rate of 91 per cent exceeded the industry standard.
*All estimates are in Canadian Dollars and include buyer’s premium