A record setting price at auction for an E.J. Hughes painting has set the art world abuzz and just might have you rushing to your attic or neighbourhood garage sale hoping to find one too.
The late Cowichan Valley artist’s painting of The Post Office at Courtenay, fetched an astounding $1.593 million dollars at auction last week and those who knew the artist well, say there are many more more of his works out there that haven’t been accounted for.
Reviewing a print of EJ Hughes’ The Post Office at Courtenay, his longtime friend Janet Truelove-Jones imagines the modest artist would be just as astounded at what someone’s just paid for the original.
“He was a gentleman an old school gentleman which was nice,” says Truelove-Jones.
The 1949 painting sold at the Heffel auction in Vancouver last week, for a whopping $1.593 million. Three times the estimate. Setting a new record for the Cowichan Valley artist’s work by $450,000.
Before he died in 2007 at the age of 97, he was able to realize the success he’d worked a lifetime for when this painting sold for over a million dollars.
“I was kind of hoping it was possible but it really was a surprise,” Hughes told CHEK News shortly after the auction.
He completed 800 pieces around the Cowichan Valley in his lifetime.
“He loved it here. He loved it here,” says Truelove-Jones.
But where all those paintings have ended up is a bit of a mystery around these parts. Stories abound, about potential fortunes still in attics and garage sale and thrift store finds of originals. The one of a woman in Ontario finding one at a garage sale tops most of them”
“And she said how much do you want for it,” recalls Truelove-Jones. “And she bought it and I think that piece went for over $500,000.”
Giving the volunteers at the Cowichan Hospital Auxiliaries Thrift Store reason to get excited when a new box of donations is dropped off.
“That would be a nice find. Well we’d be pretty happy. Yes,” say volunteers.
As the art world places the late Cowichan artist among an elite few whose work commands a small fortune at auction now. Right where those who knew him well, say that gentleman of the Cowichan Valley always deserved to be.