|David and Robert Heffel
took over their father Kenneth's fine art auctioneering business after his death
in 1987. Aided by a firm grounding in art history at UBC and more than 20
years' experience, the pair have built their own solid careers in the industry
and even added a wrinkle to it.
While developing an eye for
detail, they have kept pace with changes in technology that have allowed them to
bring a modern edge to the trade in time-honoured objects.
Younger than most in a
business where the leading dealers are often in their mid-50s, the Heffels have
achieved several landmark deals that underline the premier position of their
$5-million-a-year business. In May 2000, they drew a record $1 million bid for
an Emily Carr painting at an auction that pegged the top sales figure for a fine
art auction in Western Canada.
Yet the brothers' success
lies not in what people bid, but why they bid the way they do. It's a matter of
expertise and the information they provide when selling a painting. David calls
it "giving bidders the message," and it includes historical detail and critical
commentary about the art.
In addition to context, the
Heffels also assemble impressive auction catalogues. They were among the first
auctioneers to issue the twice-annual guides in full colour, and recently began
publishing them online. This, in addition to running a monthly art auction
through their site, www.heffel.com.
Robert attributes their willingness to use technology in a traditional industry to their relative youth, something well-disguised behind the impressive growth of their business, which today employs 10 staff. Now at the forefront of their industry, with a client list that includes rock star Bryan Adams, they continue to maintain a discreet presence in the row of galleries along South Granville.