Yesterday in Toronto, Heffel Fine Art Auction House
held the highest grossing fine art auction in Canadian history as 157 important works of art were offered at the semi-annual live auction. Starring museum-quality works by Group of Seven artist Lawren Harris, Heffels international auction achieved monumental sales of $23.4 million, exceeding presale estimates of $10 million to $15 million. Strong competition for major masterpieces from bidders across North America, Europe and Asia resulted in the sale of six individual works for more than $1 million (all prices are in Canadian dollars and include an 18 per cent buyer's premium).
This has proven to be an exciting year for Canadas Lawren Harris, as a retrospective at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California continues to garner deserved recognition for the artist. The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris, co-curated by actor and art-lover Steve Martin, made global headlines and brought the Group of Seven artist into the international spotlight. Harris led this evenings auction with the sale of three works, totaling an astounding $9,499,000. The first of the two major canvases, Winter Landscape broke the previous artist record, which stood only for a short time before the commanding Mountain and Glacier sold for $4,602,000, setting a new artist record for Harris. The work became the second most valuable Canadian work of art ever sold at auction. Inclusive of tonights sale, Heffel has sold works by Lawren Harris totaling $63,869,893.
Our 20th year of live auctions has been particularly gratifying, thanks to Lawren Harriss remarkable momentum, said David Heffel, President of Heffel Fine Art Auction House. Its rewarding to participate in the growth of the international art market and share sought-after masterpieces with the public as they pass through one set of hands to the next.
Noteworthy sales from the fall 2015 live auction include:
The leading lot in the fall sale was the extraordinary Lawren Harris canvas Mountain and Glacier, which outperformed its estimate of $1,000,000 to 1,500,000 and sold for a record $4,602,000.
Three outstanding works by Lawren Harris sold for a combined total of $9,499,000. Winter Landscape sold for an incredible $3,658,000 (est. $1,200,000 - 1,600,000) and Winter in the Ward for $1,121,000 (est. $500,000 - 700,000).
Spirited bidding drove Alex Colville's Harbour past the million dollar mark to realize a final price of $1,888,000, exceeding its estimate and setting a new record for a Colville work at auction (est. $500,000 - 700,000).
Works by Jean Paul Riopelle saw major interest from bidders in the room and on the phones. The highly sought-after 1950s canvas Sans titre surpassed its presale estimate and achieved $1,239,000 (est. $500,000 - 700,000). Jour de fêtes also bested its estimate and sold for a noteworthy $531,000 (est. 150,000 250,000).
Tom Thomson's historically significant After the Storm, believed by experts to be the last work he produced before his mysterious death, achieved $1,298,000 (est. $500,000 - 700,000).
Highly-anticipated contemporary works by internationally acclaimed artists also exceeded presale expectations. Roy Lichtenstein's Modern Room sold for a notable $141,600 (est. $60,000 - 80,000), setting a new world record for this print at auction and Barbara Hepworth's sculpture, Three Forms (Three Horizontal Curves) sold for $342,000 (est. $200,000 - 300,000). Proceeds from the sale of the sculpture will benefit the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation.
A vibrant work by Guido Molinari from the artists estate, Mutation rythmique rouge-orange, sold for $247,800, setting a new auction record for a Molinari work (est. $100,000 - 150,000).
Libellules égarées by Paul-Émile Borduas, founding member of the Automatist movement, sold for a notable $507,400. The canvas was painted during Borduass sought-after New York period (est. $200,000 - 300,000).
A total of 13 artist records were broken in the fall auction including the sale of Our Carolers in Western Canada by William Kurelek for $383,500 (est. $90,000 - 120,000), Ivan Eyres Red Rough for $354,000 (est. $60,000 - 80,000) and Alfred Pellans La tour de Babel for $118,000 (est. $90,000 - 120,000).
The fall sale marks the 20th year anniversary of Heffel's live auction platform. To date, Heffel has sold 52 individual works for more than $1 million, approaching half a billion dollars in total art sales. Heffel is the first auction house in Canada to split historical and contemporary Canadian art into separate sales: Post-War & Contemporary Art and Fine Canadian Art.