Art market

At $6.8m, Picasso hits the high mark at Toronto sale

Portrait of Dora Maar eclipses other auction offerings at Heffel

Picasso's Femme au Chapeau (1941) Heffel Fine Art Auction House

To no one’s surprise, Picasso stole the show at the Heffel fall sale in Toronto on Wednesday, with his 24-by-15in canvas Femme au Chapeau realising C$9.1m ($6.8m) including fees, squarely within its estimate of C$8m to C$10m ($6m-$7.5m). It was the biggest take in the evening’s C$22m ($16.6m) sales total.

An overflow crowd applauded when the Picasso work, a portrait of his muse Dora Maar signed and dated 13 June 1941, was sold after limited bidding. The auctioneer, David Heffel, said somewhat wistfully: “That’s a great work by a great artist. I’m glad we got to live with this Picasso over the last few months.”

Other highlights of the sale included Emily Carr’s 1912 oil on canvas Street, Alert Bay, depicting a First Nations village, which generated C$2.4m ($1.8m) with premium. The Crazy Stair, the only Carr work that has brought more at auction, sold for C$3.3m ($2.5m) in 2013.

Spirited bidding enabled the Abstract Expressionist Joan Mitchell’s untitled canvas to more than double its estimate, going for just over C$1m ($753,000) with fees. An oil by J.W. Morrice titled Venice, Regatta, and a Barbara Hepworth bronze sculpture from 1966 provided other highlights, taking in C$750,000 ($565,000) and C$600,000 ($452,000), respectively. Finally, a Lawren Harris work consigned by the actor and art enthusiast Steve Martin realised nearly C$400,000 ($301,000).