On November 3rd, 2018 the original art for Bitterblossom by Jesper Ejsing from the upcoming Ultimate Masters set was announced as sold, via the artist’s Facebook page. On November 4th the artist revealed the successful private offer of $12,000 was made by Daniel Chang of Vintage Magic.com, LLC.

Image from the Artist’s Facebook page

The Facts

Bitterblossom by Jesper Ejsing is a traditional work of acrylic on board measuring 12 inches by 16 inches. It was sold via direct private offer only a day after its initial preview. Ejsing announced the sale on his Facebook page, and a day later revealed that the “winning” offer was $12,000 and the painting was sold to collector Daniel Chang of Vintage Magic.com, LLC. This price also included the preliminary color study as well.

The Hammer

There are two interesting piece to this MTG art puzzle:

The first is that cards for Ultimate Masters were rolled out through the mail, being delivered to unsuspecting customers of the Guilds of Ravnica Mythic Edition as an apology for their less than favorable experience during the ordering process of that product. As opposed to a traditional preview season, Unlimited Masters slowly popped up on social media, meaning that a new piece such as this could be become public at a time that people were not expecting to see new cards or new paintings. Collectors did not have advance notice to prepare as they would for art from a regular set, both in terms of notice and budget.

The second interesting piece is that this work was sold via private sale as opposed to a public auction. Jesper usually auctions a marquee work like this via a private, invitation-only Facebook Messenger auction. There are no requirements to attend, you must simply request to be added and you can watch or bid freely.

It is not unusual, however, for Magic art collectors to make un-refusable offer on a work they really want as soon as they see it. They risk paying more than it might be bought for at public auction, but in doing so ensure that a bidding war cannot happen, and the price does not unexpectedly skyrocket as two potential buyers battle for the final bid. There is no way to know what Bitterblossom might have brought at public auction; only that there was a buyer willing to pay $12,000, and the artist found that number acceptable. On a piece like this, the ceiling is very, very high for what it could have brought. At the same time there is a reasonable chance it could have sold for less than the final $12,000 price.

The takeaway is this: if you are interested in purchasing a piece of original Magic art during preview season, you sometimes only have minutes to contact an artist to let them know of your interest. The market really does move that fast, and collectors must move with it.

The Art

Image from the Artist’s Facebook page

The color palette we see here is purely Jesper Ejsing, as he invokes pinks, purples, and blues to create a totally new look for this staple Black card. Taking a look at his other Black cards, you can see this palette as a repeating theme, especially in cards like Divest, Duskhunter Bat, and Flesh Carver, among others.

It was even the original color palette for Arahbo, Roar of the World, as seen in the top preliminary study, before he changed it to better suit the Green/White color combination of the card.

Preliminary Double Color Study for Arahbo, Roar of the World. Private Collection.

The world of purples and pinks is definitely his wheelhouse, but Jesper has painted cards across colors and types over his eleven year Magic career. He does almost all of his current Magic work traditionally, and with the current prices being paid for original Magic art, we can certainly see why. I would except to see some exciting things from him on the horizon, and same level of masterwork we see in his beautiful reimagining of Bitterblossom.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.