05/16/2013 02:23 EDT | Updated 07/16/2013 05:12 EDT

Fine art auction brushed by success as sales sizzle for Canadian masterworks

VANCOUVER - Collectors continue to push the value of Canadian fine and contemporary art into the stratosphere.

Heffel Fine Art Auction House says its annual spring auction has fetched prices far above original estimates for masterworks of Emily Carr, Jean-Paul Riopelle and the Group of Seven.

The auction, held Wednesday in downtown Vancouver, had collected a total of $11.5-million by the time the last gavel came down on the 185 works on the block.

One bidder paid $1,228,500 for Composition by Riopelle, an oil-on-canvass work that was originally estimated for sale at between $600,000 and $800,000.

Emily Carr's Old Timer, originally donated by the artist to raise money for the Red Cross during the Second World War, sold for $936,000, far above its $400,000 to $600,000 asking price.

Auction house president David Heffel says results prove the market for Canadian artists remains strong.