CALGARY — A small Tom Thomson painting sold for much less than expected Sunday after an unusual auction that saw the buyer storm out of the room before eventually being allowed to buy the piece.
The painting, a muted portrayal of a lake at dawn near Algonquin Park in Ontario, was expected to sell for between $500,000 and $600,000.
“I hadn’t really planned on showing up, I hadn’t really planned on being here. I didn’t think I was going to own that painting,” said new owner Tom Budd, a retired Calgary investment banker who said he came on a whim after an afternoon of racing cars.
Despite interest from across the country, when the piece, called Dawn on Round Lake, was first raised at the front of the Calgary auction, the bids did not fly.
Only Budd raised his hand, bidding $350,000.
Doug Levis of Levis Fire Art Auctions & Appraisals tried to ramp that bid higher, but when it was revealed the painting could not sell for a price less than $400,000, Budd objected that his lower bid was accepted in the first place.
After a few minutes of arguing that several art collectors called “shocking” and “unprecedented,” the painting was declared unsold and Budd marched out of the room.
“You’ve got to encourage the bidding somehow to get to your minimum bid or whatever you’re going to sell it for,” said one man after the outburst. “That’s how auctions work.”