"The Crazy Stair"

Emily Carr's The Crazy Stair commanded $3,393,000, which is the most ever paid at auction for an Emily Carr painting. (Heffel Fine Art Auction House/The Canadian Press)

A record amount paid for a painting by Canadian artist Emily Carr helped the Heffel Fine Art Auction House set a sales record in its fall auction Thursday.

Leading the live auction at the Park Hyatt Hotel was The Crazy Stair, which brought in $3.39 million, the most ever paid at auction for a Carr painting.

The pre-auction estimate for the painting, which was sold to an anonymous buyer, was between $1.2 and $1.6 million.

Heffel says it was the highest amount paid for a work by a Canadian female artist and the fourth most valuable piece ever sold in Canadian art auction history.

The large format painting from Carr's mature period is described as "indicative of the artist's lifelong engagement with First Nations culture." The Victoria, B.C., native died in 1945 at the age of 74.

The sale of The Crazy Stair boosted overall sales at the auction to more than $13.5 million, which Heffel says exceeded pre-sale expectations

In all, eight pieces by Carr were sold, including War Canoes, which fetched $339,300. Heffel has now sold 220 of Carr's works, totalling $50.6 million.

Thomson, Riopelle pieces also sold

Canoe Lake by Tom Thomson was expected to sell for as much as $600,000, but sold well above estimate at nearly $1.7 million. His painting entitled Autumn, Algonquin Park was also sold Thursday for $526,500.

Other highlights included Jean-Paul Riopelle's 1954 work, Sans titre, which sold for $789,750 and his Iceberg IV work fetched $491,400. The five Riopelle pieces sold Thursday brought in $1.8 million.

A 1971 work by William Kurelek called Rink Making more than tripled its pre-auction estimate by selling for $163,800.

Ephraim Kelloway's White Door by artist David Lloyd Blackwood sold for $105,300, more than double the pre-auction estimate.

The auction also included the sale of a painting by Sir Frederick Banting, who is best known as the co-discoverer of insulin.

His work entitled French River sold for $58,500.

All prices include a 17 per cent buyer's premium.