History
With the largest and most experienced team of fine art specialists in Canada, it is our mission to provide transparent and superior client service to sellers and buyers of fine art globally.

Kenneth G. Heffel Kenneth G. Heffel Fine Art Inc. opened in 1978 under the watchful eye of industrialist and art collector Kenneth G. Heffel, who quickly built the Heffel reputation in the Canadian art business with hard work and his deep love of Canadian art. Opening a gallery in the old Royal Bank of Canada heritage building on Vancouver’s established South Granville Gallery Row, the gregarious Heffel slowly built up his collection and clientele, armed with an initial investment of valuable paintings by Canadian masters. Heffel established a reputation for buying and selling the very best works by Canadian artists, and soon rose to prominence in the gallery world. In 1987, after nearly a decade in the fine art business, Heffel passed away, leaving his sons David, then 25, and Robert, 23, to carry on the family name in the art business.

Brothers David and Robert Heffel grew up in a home filled with fine Canadian art, which inspired both to study Art History at the University of British Columbia. Within a few years of taking ownership, David and Robert identified a significant shift in art collecting and noticed the rapid growth of the international fine art auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Further down the West Coast, the success of regional fine art auction house Butterfield & Butterfield in San Francisco confirmed that there was a strong need for a quality fine art auction house in the Pacific Northwest. Challenged by a prejudice against their youthful age in a fine art industry that prided itself on wisdom gathered by long experience, the Heffel brothers instead took advantage of their unique combination of skills, their fresh perspective on the fine art business, and their unique understanding of how Internet technology could be utilized by art business.

Heffel Fine Art Auction House, a division of Heffel Gallery Limited, was established in 1995, and with its inaugural auction became the first western Canadian fine art auction to achieve over $1 million in sales. Heffel has revolutionized the way art is sold in Canada, and now conducts live auction events semi-annually, in May and November of each year.

Based on the success of Heffel Fine Art Auction House and the rapidly growing use of the Internet in every aspect of business, Heffel was soon fast at work creating another way to bring quality masterworks to the public. In September of 1999, the first heffel.com online auction was launched. The monthly online auctions combine the buzz and anticipation of a live auction with the dynamism of the Internet. States David Heffel: “When we hold a live auction in a ballroom, there is a buzz in the room, an excitement, a thrill. We have found that same sort of excitement and anticipation generated online.” The success of Heffel’s monthly online auctions has grown vigorously, with specialty sales that include Canadian, American and European art. In April of 2007, Heffel had a record online sale of Fine British, European, Russian, Asian and American Art that achieved $2.4 million. In October of 2015, HO2, an online platform dedicated to sales of art from corporate collections was established. The inaugural auction showcased works from Imperial Oil. Every month since 1999 Heffel has consistently conducted online auctions.


Robert and David Heffel
with their mother Marjorie,
May 2007

Heffel.com soon increased the services it offered to the serious art collector by introducing the Canadian Art at Auction Index, a subscription resource database of over 50 years of Canadian art at auction sales. This sophisticated index contains in excess of 80,000 records and 65,000 image reproductions. Today heffel.com has become the number one Internet resource site for the Canadian art market.

Heffel publishes its entire live auction online (www.heffel.com), from initial promotion and illustrated lot listings to the auction’s live multi-camera webcast and final sale results. This, combined with the printed catalogues, has generated unparalleled collector participation in sales, with bidders from across Canada, the United States, the UK, Europe and Asia. Heffel’s strength in the Canadian and international art market reflects the growing worldwide prominence of our semi-annual auctions. Today international and Canadian collectors consign their important artwork to Heffel for sale.

Heffel grew into a national auction house with the opening of Heffel Gallery, Toronto in 2002, Galerie Heffel, Montreal in 2005 and Heffel Gallery, Calgary in 2016. Today, works by important contemporary and historical Canadian artists hang in all four galleries. With offices and galleries in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Calgary, Heffel has the most experienced team of fine art specialists in the business, providing customers with the best opportunity for maximizing the value of their works.

view heffel's timeline

In May 2000, Heffel achieved the highest price for a Canadian painting sold at auction in that year ~ an Emily Carr canvas that sold for more than one million dollars. On May 23, 2007 Heffel conducted the largest Canadian art auction at that time, with an unprecedented sale total of $23 million. In fall of 2016 Heffel’s four-session sale surpassed this with the impressive total of $42,211,760. Today Heffel holds almost every Canadian record for gross auction sales and many records for individual artists, led by Lawren Harris’s masterpiece Mountain Forms, which sold for $11.2 million in November 2016. To date Heffel has sold more than half a billion dollars in fine art at auction.

Heffel was the first to realize the value of dividing its sale into two sessions to allow collectors to focus on works of interest to them, and thus now holds a two-session sale featuring Canadian Post-War & Contemporary Art in one session followed directly by a second session showcasing Fine Canadian Art. In November of 2016, in another innovation for the Canadian art market, Heffel held a live auction session dedicated to a single consignor which included a separate catalogue. Heffel now also includes international art in its live auction sales. Heffel’s attention to detail, accuracy, knowledge of the works they handle, and above all, their ethical guidelines have contributed to their industry-leading success.


Innovative Approaches

Heffel has developed a unique approach to the fine art auction business by taking a very traditional business formula, as developed by Sotheby’s and Christie’s over their 150 years in business, and adapting this sales and marketing process and philosophy to modern Internet technology. By developing heffel.com’s Canadian Art at Auction Index (an art market informational database available via the Internet), Heffel has given the private collector the tools to make a professional and informed decision in the buying and selling of fine Canadian art.

Heffel’s semi-annual live fine art auctions take place at Design Exchange, a stunning space in a heritage building at the heart of Toronto’s Financial District. Heffel gives thoughtful attention to every detail of the auction event to give bidders an exciting and memorable experience.

Heffel Fine Art Auction House was the first auction house in Canada

  • to produce their live auction printed catalogues in full colour
  • to post and reproduce their live sale catalogue online on the Internet
  • to broadcast in real time their live sales on the web
  • to conduct monthly auctions on the web, exclusively of fine art
  • to offer multi-city previews of their live Canadian art auctions in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal

Heffel is now:

  • Taking a leadership position to elevate Canada, and in particular Toronto, as one of the top international art market centres
  • Heffel live auctions are inclusive of international works of art
  • Continuing to innovate by broadening our online sales, with specialty sales, more international works and services tailored to large corporate collections.
  • Canada’s only national fine art auction house.


home | online auction | live auction | private sale | art index | search | contact | site map