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A 1986 lithograph print by the late Kenojuak Ashevak of Cape Dorset recently defied the odds by fetching 10 times more than what appraisers figured it was worth on the open market.

Bountiful Bird, by the late Kenojuak Ashevak, took in $28,800, including the buyer’s premium, at auction in late February. That’s 10 times more than estimated.
photo courtesy of Waddington’s Auctioneers and Appraisers

A couple of serious bidders kept bumping up the price of Bountiful Bird until the online auction closed on Feb. 27 and the final tally hit $28,800. Staff at Toronto-based Waddington’s Auctioneers and Appraisers pegged the value of the 53.3×73.7 cm print at $2,000-$3,000.

“In the case of Bountiful Bird, two very determined collectors wanted this work, driving the price higher than we anticipated,” stated Tess McLean, who oversees communications and marketing for Waddingtons. “We can project what an item is potentially worth based on pre-auction research, but it’s impossible to project what an enthusiastic collector will pay for an item they passionately want for their collection.”

She added that Duncan McLean, Waddington’s president and senior specialist in our Inuit art department, said sometimes “passion rules” in the art business.

The rarity of an item, the name or pedigree of the artist and past results are other factors in determining value, according to Tess McLean.

Ashevak’s stonecut print titled The Enchanted Owl set a record for prints at a Canadian auction when it sold for $216,000 in November 2018. The estimate for that artwork prior to bidding was $100,000-$120,000.

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Derek Neary

Derek Neary has been reporting on developments in the North for 18 years. When he's not writing for Nunavut News, he's working on Northern News Services' special publications such as Opportunities North,...

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