Painting collecting dust in basement sells for over $480,000

A Tom Thomson painting that was given away as a gag gift just months ago fetched $481,250 on Wednesday night at the Heffel Fine Art Auction House semi-annual auction in Toronto.

Until recently, ``Sketch for Lake in Algonquin Park'' was collecting dust among a pile of artworks in Glenna Gardiner's Edmonton basement.

The 71-year-old retired nurse said she used to laugh off her late father's claims that the painting was created by Thomson, often considered the forefather to the Group of Seven.

The work's origins became a running joke between Gardiner and a longtime friend, who insisted it was authentic, leading Gardiner to present it as a gag gift.

The two brought it to Heffel Fine Art Auction House for appraisal, where experts verified its pedigree and valued the sketch at between $125,000 and $175,000.

 The two friends will be taking a Mediterranean cruise with the profits, Heffel said in a release.