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Riopelle painting fetches $1.2 million at Heffel spring auction

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VANCOUVER - Paintings by late Montreal abstract artist Jean-Paul Riopelle and a collection of works from a Montreal school board fetched millions at the Heffel Fine Art Auction House spring sale Wednesday night.

A Riopelle 1955 oil on canvas titled "Composition" and measuring more than two metres long went for $1,228,500. That's well over the estimated price of $600,000 to $800,000 and was the highest amount achieved in the sale.

Meanwhile, eight other Riopelle pieces he gave to his mistress from the 1950s drew a total of $444,600.

Other highlights of the sale included Canadian works consigned by the Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal Cultural Heritage Foundation, which fetched a combined total of $1,586,520 — within the pre-sale estimate of $1.3 million to $1.8 million.

That sale included A.Y. Jackson's "A Quebec Village (Winter, Saint-Fidele)," which is believed to be among his most important works ever and fetched $585,000, within its pre-sale estimate.

The non-profit foundation that oversees the paintings says proceeds raised from the sale will provide post-secondary scholarships to current and future English Montreal School Board graduates.

Also going for well over its estimate was Emily Carr's "Old Timer," which fetched $936,000 — the second-highest sale price achieved at the sale. Heffel says the piece was originally donated by the artist in 1942 to raise money at auction for the Red Cross during the Second World War.

The Heffel spring sale featured 185 lots and fetched a total of $11.5 million, surpassing pre-sale expectations.

All sale prices include the buyer's premium.

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