On November 4th, 2018, the second original Magic painting made for a card from the Ultimate Masters Box Toppers was sold. Fulminator Mage by Lucas Graciano realized a final price of $5,000 at auction in the MTG Art Market on Facebook.

Image from the MTG Art Market Facebook auction by Lucas Graciano

The Facts

Fulminator Mage by Lucas Graciano is a work of oil on gessoed masonite and measures an impressive 16 inches by 20 inches. It was sold via a short, three-day auction run by the artist on the MTG Art Market that began at 7pm EST Friday, November 2nd and concluded just after 10pm EST on Sunday, November 4th. The final price was $5,000 after a considerable back and forth exchange of bidding in the final minutes.

Image from the MTG Art Market Facebook auction by Lucas Graciano

The Hammer

These Ultimate Masters preview cards became public without warning, meaning that means original art collectors had no time to prepare their budgets, or more affectionately called by some as “war chests.” New art like this is big deal and you have only hours or sometimes minutes to contact an artist when their art is revealed, so the time crunch is real. As an Izzet collector I made preparations most of the summer to try and buy a piece from Guilds of Ravnica if one I really liked should come out (spoiler: there was, and I did). But if you were interested in this piece or the few other traditional works for the Ulitmate Box Toppers, you had zero time to make plans between their preview and sale offering. This is the first time that Fulminator Mage has been painted traditionally; the original version by rk post was confirmed digital by the artist.

As a counterpoint to what I said above: because these pieces are marquee cards, meaning their prices realized are destined to bring a premium, there are only a handful of art collectors with the intention (and means) to collect them. These folks are almost always ready, and I don’t think the short notice affected the final price of the art.

There was a bit of confusion at the end of the auction as well, as a late bid from a previously non-competing bidder came in right as the auction ended. In many MTG art auctions, a bid within the last ten minutes extends the auction ten minutes to prevent sniping, but because this bidder had not made their interest known previously, the auction had already been closed by the artist before the bid was acknowledged. It was a $25 advance, and likely would not have spurred too much continued bidding, but there remains a question mark on whether this bid, from this bidder, could have incited a continued bidding war.

MFW a super last minute bid comes in. Image from the MTG Art Market Facebook auction by Lucas Graciano

The Art

Image from the MTG Art Market Facebook auction by Lucas Graciano

Ah, Cinderfolk…

These creatures are one of my personal favorite types in all of Magic and are rooted firmly in the worlds of Lorwyn and Shadowmoor, with some offshoot appearances in Alara and supplemental sets. Although Fulminator Mage doesn’t show up in this cross section, we can see generally what these creatures look like via Scryfall.

Lucas mentioned in the auction that this was the first Cinderfolk that had been reimagined in quite some time, and that he was “asked to update the design and was given some fun creative freedom.” He knocked it out of the park on this piece, creating a recognizable creature from Magic’s past but with the temperature turned all the way up. post’s Fulminator seeks to control the audience as it directly interacts with the viewer, but Graciano’s is hellbent on destruction, pulling the fire, brimstone, and lava, literally bringing the heat, from the elemental earth behind him. An exceptional piece of art from one of Magic’s most talented artists.

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