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

Taxing Vancouver Island

Big Read: find out which communities are paying the lowest and highest taxes on Vancouver Island

Tofino’s first Jazz Festival swings into town this weekend

“I wanted a night of music were you didn’t have to go through fences to access the music.”

UPDATE: Construction on Hwy. 4 halted after tree crashes into traffic

Trees are being cleared along the highway between Port Alberni and the Tofino-Ucluelet junction.

GoFundMe page launched for families of three missing Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation fishermen

Men have been missing since their vessel capsized near Tofino on June 15.

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

B.C. BMX kid wows GoPro with homemade video

Eight-year-old Rex Johnson wins award for inventive video

Trump sends letter to Trudeau calling for increase in NATO defence spending

The letter comes as tensions between Canada and the United States have risen to a dramatic high

Electoral reform vote in B.C. includes $500,000 each for pro and con groups

A mail-in ballot referendum will take place Oct. 22 to Nov. 30, asking two questions on voting

Horse put down, 1 person in hospital after hit by car in Lower Mainland

Accident along 132nd Avenue in Maple Ridge Friday afternoon

83-year-old inmate dies at medium-security prison in Mission

Correctional Services Canada says Ralph Whitfield Morris died in custody

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna suspended for 75 games

23-year-old pitcher faces assault charge

Vancouver Canucks tab Quinn Hughes with No. 7 overall pick in NHL draft

University of Michigan standout was second defenceman picked in first round

Gun, drugs and cash seized in arrest of alleged B.C. fentanyl dealer

Vancouver Island man Brent Connors is facing nine charges in relation to investigation

Jogger spent two weeks in U.S. detention centre after accidentally crossing B.C. border

Cedella Roman, 19, crossed the border while out for a run

Most Read