World Record for an Inuit Sculpture at Auction

By: Staff

‘The Migration’ by Joe Talirunili achieves new record
Media Release

TORONTO (November 5, 2012) – A magnificent sculpture by Inuit artist Joe Talirunili was the highlight of Waddington’s Fall Inuit Art Auction, selling for $290,000 CDN (including buyer’s premium).

The price marks a new world record for a piece of Inuit art at auction. The Migration recounts the harrowing journey of the artist and other survivors on a crowded, hastily constructed skin boat or umiak, and paddling through breaking ice floes to reach safety. The artist visited the theme frequently in his work, in both print and sculpture, but this circa 1970s piece is a crown jewel amongst those depictions. Bidding was exceptionally quick on the “Joe Boat”, soaring past the presale estimate of $100,000 to $150,000 before finally being hammered down by Waddington’s President and auctioneer Duncan McLean to thunderous applause.

The new record for both genre and artist surpassed the previous high watermark of $278,000 CDN, achieved for another Joe Boat in 2006, and also sold by Waddington’s.

The result also marks the highest price achieved for any Canadian sculpture at auction this year, and likely in the top three all time.

Taking place on a chilly Monday evening in Toronto, the exceptional price heated up bidding in the room, with artwork by famed artists Judas Ullulaq, Ennutsiak, Karoo Ashevak, Josiah Nuilaalik, Pauta Saila, and Jessie Oonark all fetching values at the high end or exceeding their estimates, and driving the total for the night to over $770,000.

The impressive auction slate also featured a rare white stone Pauta Saila polar bear, for over $20,000. This spectacular auction attracted collectors and dealers from across the world.

“We are thrilled with the results of the sale. To have one of the most famous Inuit works in the sale, and to set a new world record for it, makes this a very special night. The results continue to speak to the fact that this is a truly remarkable art form, one that is recognized by art collectors all over the world.”

View auction results.

Related News

Start Collecting

Everything you need to know to get you started bidding in our auctions at Waddington’s.

Learn More

How to Sell

Find out why selecting Waddington’s is the right choice for consigning your works of art, wine or specialty items.

Learn More

Become a Member

Sign up for your Waddington’s account to start bidding, manage your invoices, and track items you're interested in.

Sign Up