Canadian art history is made: Emily Carr's record-breaking $3.39 million sale drives Heffel's 2013 Fall auction total to more than $13.5 million

Rarely seen masterworks by Emily Carr, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Jean-Paul Lemieux, Lawren Harris and Tom Thomson drive impressive sales and exceed pre-auction estimates at the Toronto live auction

  • With seven record-breaking sales, this year's live auction reached a total of more than $13.5 million, far surpassing pre-sale expectations
  • The Crazy Stair (The Crooked Staircase) reached $3,393,000 - a record for an Emily Carr work at Canadian auction
  • Thomas John (Tom) Thomson's Canoe Lake (unseen since 1915) sold for nearly $1.7 million
  • Jean Paul-Riopelle works, Sans titre and Iceberg IV surpassed estimates and resulted in a combined sale of $1,281,150
  • Two Lawren Stewart Harris pieces, Herbert Lake, Algoma and Lake Superior Sketch XCVII sold for a combined $374,400

TORONTO, Nov. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - Tonight, 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 works offered 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 tonight'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, five Riopelle 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, achieved a 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 Thoughtful sold for $38,025
  • Jack Bush's dynamic, contemporary piece Off Green, reached $140,400 (est. $100,000 - $150,000)
  • Karlukwees, BC by 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 work French River sold for $58,500 (estimate $40,000 - $60,000)
  • Montreal artist Jean-Paul Lemieux's L'évêque en noir reached 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 $9.2 million. The success rate of 91 per cent exceeded the industry standard.

More information on the pieces and artists included in this year's fall auction can be found at

About Heffel Fine Art Auction House 
Canadian-owned and a family run business, Heffel has sold more Canadian art than any other auctioneer worldwide, with more than $350 million in art auction sales since 1995, and has conducted the most valuable live auctions of Canadian art. With offices and representatives in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Calgary, Heffel provides superior client services to both sellers and buyers nationwide.  In addition to full-colour printed catalogues, Heffel publishes its entire live auction online at, from initial promotion and illustrated lot listings, to the auction's live multi-camera webcast and final sale results.

Follow us on Twitter @HeffelAuction
Find our YouTube Channel

*All estimates are in Canadian Dollars and include buyer's premium

Image with caption: "The Crazy Stair (The Crooked Staircase) by Emily Carr earned $3.39 million 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. (CNW Group/Heffel Fine Art Auction House)". Image available at:

SOURCE: Heffel Fine Art Auction House

For further information:

Media contact:

For more information, to schedule an interview or media viewing, or for high-resolution images, please contact:

Rebecca Rykiss
NATIONAL Public Relations

David Heffel / Robert Heffel

Heffel Fine Art Auction House
604-418-6505 / 604-418-0100 /

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890