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

Year-long volunteer program aims to empower Vancouver Island youths

Federally funded Youth 20/20 Can involves young people aged 15-30

UPDATED: Nanaimo pumped for Red Bull Pump Track World Championship event

Nanaimo’s Ben Leslie wins men’s division of world qualifier at Steve Smith Bike Park

V.I. Raiders earn a win against Okanagan Sun

Five interceptions help Nanaimo to a 37-13 victory Saturday at Caledonia Park

Summertime Blues Festival on at Maffeo Sutton Park

It’s Day 3 of Nanaimo’s blues festival with performances until 10 p.m. tonight

VIU staff go rock-hunting in Nanaimo for grade-school geology courses

University’s earth science department creating introductory teaching kits for schools

UPDATED: Nanaimo pumped for Red Bull Pump Track World Championship event

Nanaimo’s Ben Leslie wins men’s division of world qualifier at Steve Smith Bike Park

VIEX now in full swing

Vancouver Island Exhibition underway in Nanaimo

B.C. VIEWS: Pipelines set to roll as federal politicians posture

Projects to drive B.C., Canadian economy in years ahead

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

Vancouver Island man dead after reported hit-and-run incident

Oceanside RCMP seek public’s help gathering information

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Beefs & Bouquets, Aug. 22

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

Most Read