Toronto’s Globe and Mail gives some details on Sotheby’s sale of Canadian art last night that showed a real boom across artists and genres. What it doesn’t say is that Canada remains in real estate boom that is as fragile as it is explosive. How deep is the market for Canadian art? And can it withstand a property bust?
Monday evening at a live auction in Toronto, Sotheby’s Canada sold a canvas Lemieux completed in 1972 for an impressive $1.095-million, including buyer’s premium. What made the sale of Country Club – a light-hearted tableau of two affluent ladies at lunch –even more impressive was that it’s the third Lemieux canvas to sell for more than $1-million this year. […] While auction interest in Mr. Lemieux has been building in the last two or three years, clearly it is peaking now.
It was this success and that of another deceased Quebec master, J.W. Morrice (1865-1924), that powered Sotheby’s performance at the Royal Ontario Museum. Selling about 130 of the 182 lots it had been consigned for bidding, it was able to report at auction’s end a total sale of close to $8-million on a pre-sale estimate of $4.7-million to $6.6-million (premium excluded). Contributing mightily to the tally was Evening Stroll, Venice, an oil Mr. Morrice painted in the early 20th century, that fetched almost $1.5-million – the result of a heated bidding battle between two titans of the Canadian art market, Winnipeg-based gallerist David Loch (and former confidant of the late Kenneth Thomson) and Toronto collector Ash Prakash (who has been known to bid on behalf of Mr. Thomson’s son, David). It was Mr. Prakash who finally prevailed.