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Group of Seven artist’s sketch discovered in Edmonton basement sells for $481K at auction

Undated handout photo of "Sketch for Lake in Algonquin Park," a Tom Thomson painting that was given away as a gag gift just months ago, has sold at auction for nearly half a million dollars. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Heffel Inc.

A Tom Thomson painting that was given away as a gag gift just months ago fetched $481,250 on Wednesday night at the Heffel Fine Art Auction House semi-annual auction in Toronto.

Until recently, “Sketch for Lake in Algonquin Park” was collecting dust among a pile of artworks in Glenna Gardiner’s Edmonton basement.

The 71-year-old retired nurse said she used to laugh off her late father’s claims that the painting was created by Thomson, often considered the forefather to the Group of Seven.

READ MORE: Edmonton grandmother’s gag gift confirmed as Tom Thomson painting

Watch below: On March 30 2018, Julia Wong spoke to an Edmonton woman who got the shock of her life when she found out she was the owner of a very rare painting.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton woman uncovers rare piece of art in basement' Edmonton woman uncovers rare piece of art in basement
Edmonton woman uncovers rare piece of art in basement – Mar 30, 2018

The work’s origins became a running joke between Gardiner and a longtime friend, who insisted it was authentic, leading Gardiner to present it as a gag gift.

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The two brought it to Heffel Fine Art Auction House for appraisal, where experts verified its pedigree and valued the sketch at between $125,000 and $175,000.

The two friends will be taking a Mediterranean cruise with the profits, Heffel said in a release.

Wednesday’s auction of 118 works — which raised a total of $14.1 million — included pieces by Paul-Emile Borduas, whose 1956 masterpiece “Figures schematiques” led the auction by fetching $3.6 million — an auction record for the artist.

“Morning, Lake Superior” by Group of Seven founder Lawren Harris sold for $1.1 million — far above the pre-sale estimate of between $100,000 and $150,000. The small work is described as a preparatory sketch for a pivotal canvas by the artist, hanging in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Other Group of Seven paintings offered in the auction included A.J. Casson’s “Farmhouse Near Wingle.” The canvas also sold well over the pre-sale estimate at $541,250 (est. $150,000 — $250,000).

Other highlights include “Strawberry,” a large-scale canvas by Jack Bush, which set an artist record by selling for $691,250.

Two works by Quebec-born Jean Paul Lemieux sold at above pre-sale estimates. “Le Cavalier dans la neige” sold for $841,250 and “Le temps retrouve — Kent House 1913” fetched $391,250.

Watch below: Some Global News videos related to Group of Seven artists and artwork.

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