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

Driver convicted in death of Const. Sarah Beckett granted partial parole

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend an alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after fatal crash in Langford

Experts discuss sustainability and tourism in Victoria

IMPACT Sustainability Travel and Tourism Conference runs Jan. 21-23

Peninsula Chamber gears up for annual Tour of Industry

Event showcases local businesses, connects entrepreneurs during tour, luncheon

City of Victoria earmarks $90,000 for mayoral assistant

The new Head of Strategy and Operations would help with municipal duties

New childcare in Langford looking for toddlers and teachers

Willowbrae Academy puts an emphasis on healthy living habits

WATCH: Celebration of Life hosted for 29 Victoria trees set to be removed

Community Trees Matter Network hosting “goodbye and thank you” for trees on Fort Street

Suspect allegedly armed with handgun robs Island gas station

Incident occurred Sunday night in Nanaimo

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

MARS seeing influx of sick, injured eagles from north part of Vancouver Island

Factors for increase in eagle cases can be anything from lead poisoning to vehicle strikes

Doug Ford says the Liberals’ carbon tax will plunge Canada into recession

The Ontario premier said there are already warning signs of difficult economic times ahead

Kamala Harris opens U.S. presidential bid in challenge to Trump

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Most Read