A great year for Canadian art: Heffel held exceptional art sales led by Lawren Harris

Museum quality paintings and outstanding estates on offer with Heffel Fine Art Auction House caught the attention of eager bidders from Canada, the United States, Asia and Europe at their live sales this year as the company cemented its place as the number one auction house in Canada in 2010.

The $1m mark was surpassed five times by Heffel, making it the only Canadian auction house to have sold a work of art for more than $1m for the second year in a row.

Heffel's spring 2010 live sale achieved a $22.2m total, the second highest grossing art auction in Canadian history, superceded by Heffel's $23m sale in May 2007. This seems to show that Canadian art is an underrated investment.

With an average price per lot of $100,000, 44 works exceeded the $100,000 mark in the spring auction, which was held in Vancouver on May 26, 2010. Heffel's fall 2010 auction, held November 25 in Toronto, achieved the fifth highest dollar value in Canadian art auction history and set a record for the highest dollar value Post War & Contemporary sale in Canadian auction history.

With a final total of $14.4m in the fall auction, the average price per lot sold was $92,000 and 34 paintings exceeded the $100,000 mark. Heffel has now conducted all 10 of the top 10 auctions of Canadian art in Canadian auction history.

Lauren Harris Arctic Sketch IX
Lauren Harris Arctic Sketch IX

Combined live auction sale results for the year 2010 totalled an astounding $36.6m, with 25 artist records set. With the addition of total online sales of $3.7m, Heffel recorded a $40m year.

Heffel has had particular success at handling important estates such as those of Arthur Erickson, Helen E. Band, Theodosia Dawes Bond Thornton and Mary Breckenridge, all of which were consigned to Heffel in the last two years.

The company sold three paintings for over $1m in the Fine Canadian Art sector of the market in 2010; all three masterpieces were in the spring season. Lawren Harris's Bylot Island I sold for $2,808,000, another Harris, Arctic Sketch IX, sold for $1,521,500 and Arthur Lismer had a record result of $1,111,500 for The Sheep's Nose, Bon Echo.

That covers three of Heffel's top five sales for the year, the other two being filled in by Alexander Colville's Man on Verandah (Sold for $1,287,000) and Jean Paul Riopelle's Sans titre (Sold for $1,111,500).

The spring season of Fine Canadian Art (defined as the historical market and early Canadian modernists from 1900 to 1940) saw five new records set, while three were set in the fall season. Combining the spring and fall seasons, $25.8m worth of Fine Canadian Art sold with Heffel.

The Fine Canadian Art market continues to be strong in all categories, as Heffel continues to see new collectors entering the market. Watch this space for more news of the Canadian art market in 2011.


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