Edmonton’s Glenna Gardiner (left) and Vernon’s Marit Main will celebrate Gardiner’s windfall of more than $425,000 from the auction of a rare painting Gardiner gave to Main as a gag birthday gift with a Meditteranean cruise. (Morning Star file photo)

Painting given to B.C. woman as gag goes for $481,000

Painting done by Group of Seven contemporary Tom Thomson fetches more than anticipated at auction

VERNON — The pause in the online auction was killing Glenna Gardiner.

Was anybody going to bid Wednesday on her Tom Thomson painting — Sketch for Lake in Algonquin Park — she had given to her very best friend, Vernon’s Marit Main, as a 70th birthday present at the Heffel Auction in Toronto?

Somebody did. Then another. And another. All the while Gardiner was following the live auction stream at her home in Edmonton and talking on the phone to Main, who was also catching the livestream at her home while babysitting her grandchildren.

The painting eventually went for $481,250. The buyer is unknown.

“It’s way more than I was thinking,” said Gardiner, 71. “It’s beyond my comprehension. It hasn’t really sunk in.”

“Isn’t it unbelievable?” said Main of the auction price. “I’m so happy for Glenna. It’s very exciting and such a beautiful painting.”

The painting by Thomson, a Group of Seven contemporary who died at age 39 in 1917, was done in 1913, a smaller, precursor to the full-canvas Lake in Algonquin Park that hangs in the National Gallery of Canada.

It was expected to bring in between $125,000 and $175,000 at the Heffel Fine Art Auction House’s spring sell-off.

Gardiner and Main, 72, have known each other for more than 50 years. They met in nursing school at Vancouver General Hospital and have been friends ever since.

Gardiner inherited the painting from her dad, Jack, a United Church minister with a prankster side. He always said it was a Thomson, but Glenna never believed dad. She hung the painting in her Edmonton home but it ended up stuck on a pile on a table with a bunch of other painting.

Main came for a visit and while sorting through the paintings, she said she knew the Thomson work was special and that Gardiner should have it appraised. Gardiner sent the painting to Main as a birthday present.

An artist friend from Norway visited Main and encouraged her to have the work looked at. Main phoned the Heffel Gallery, Canada’s premier art auctioneers, and sent a photo of the work. They called back within two hours and told Main “it looks like it has promise.”

The Heffel Gallery took possession of the work and had it restored in Vancouver. Gardiner and Main visited the painting in early May when they went to Vancouver for their 50-year nursing reunion. Their story had been in newspapers (including The Morning Star) and on social media.

“Our classmates had seen the story and they were so excited,” said Gardiner. “One of our classmates actually went to the auction.”

With the windfall, Gardiner and Main, along with Main’s husband, David, are going on a Meditteranean cruise, and will expand their trip to Norway to visit Main’s artist friend and some family.

 

The painting Sketch for Lake In Algonquin Park that Edmonton’s Glenna Gardiner gave to her best friend, Marit Main of Vernon, for a 70th birthday present, fetched more than $425,000 at auction. (Morning Star file photo)

Just Posted

Stelly’s grad wins rowing gold in Poland

As part of a women’s eight that won gold last month, Ivy… Continue reading

Central Saanich pot farm now on hold

A smokescreen for opposition to legal pot, say some critics

Victoria Lavender owner set to retire

Sidney storefront to remain open, future of goat yoga undecided

Westshore Rebels game postponed due to poor air quality conditions

Games expected to continue the following week

BC Farmers’ Market Trail a one-stop virtual guide to the goods

New website assembles, profiles 145+ farmers’ markets throughout B.C.

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

Canadians fear for relatives trapped amid flooding in Indian state of Kerala

More than 800,000people have been displaced by floods and landslides

IndyCar driver Wickens flown to hospital after scary crash

IndyCar said Wickens was awake and alert as he was taken to a hospital

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights are misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Most Read