SLIDESHOW: Million-dollar deals (and first-world problems) at the ritzy Art Toronto pre-sale

SLIDESHOW: Million-dollar deals (and first-world problems) at the ritzy Art Toronto pre-sale

SLIDESHOW: First-world problems and million-dollar deals at the exclusive Art Toronto preview event

Here’s the secret about Art Toronto, this weekend’s massive downtown art fair: most of the serious transactions happen well before the show goes live. Last night’s exclusive pre-sale in benefit of the Art Gallery of Ontario looked like a regular artsy soirée, but beneath the sea of curious coifs, silk scarves and quirky eyewear, big-game art collectors were stalking their prey. Before the night was through, millions of dollars worth of art had discretely changed hands, with one gallery—the Winnipeg-based Loch Gallery—netting over $3 million in sales. Here, a rundown on the night’s best bargains, biggest flops and most exorbitant deals, plus 16 jaw-dropping photos from the festival opener.

Speediest Sale: 15 Minutes
Within a quarter-hour, Yorkville’s Mira Goddard Gallery had bagged a Lucien Freud etching for $28,000.

Sole Sign of Undercover Transacting: Red Dots
In the art world, pocketbooks rarely make an appearance. Little scarlet stickers stuck to works’ descriptive panels were the only indication that pieces were being snapped up.

Most Meh Installation: All The Artists Are Here
Based on the hype surrounding Thom Sokoloski’s feature commission, we were ready to be wowed. The reality—a wall of portraits of the fair’s exhibiting artists—was somewhat underwhelming (especially compared to Kent Monkman’s The Art Game, the flagship work from 2011).

Biggest Mystery (Literally)
The gallery that sold Monkman’s breathtaking (and enormous) Struggle for Balance From the Urban refused to reveal the closing figure. We imagine it went for a tidy sum.

Fattest Sale (Figuratively)
Mayberry Fine Art sold Tom Thomson’s Winter, Algonquin Park, a panel approximately the size of a toaster, for over $1 million.

Most Noticeable Absence: The BMW Art Car
The festival mainstay, designed in past years by Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, was curiously missing from this year’s event.

Best Bargain: Ross Bonfanti’s Concreatures
The Toronto-born artist’s concrete-filled teddy bears went for $800 a pop, making them some of the more accessible works on display.

Biggest First-World Problem: “But will it match the other one?”