On Janurary 26, a post was made in the closed “High End Magic” Facebook group by Josh Patel announcing that the original paintings for some of Magic’s most important and infamous cards, including Black Lotus, Mox Emerald, and Mox Jet, were made publically available for purchase.

The advertised asking prices were as follows:

Black Lotus by Christopher Rush: $6,500,000
Mox Emerald by Dan Frazier: $750,000
Mox Jet by Dan Frazier: $750,000
Farmstead by Mark Poole: $85,000

The Facts

The post was made by known art collector and confirmed owner of these paintings, Josh Patel, who heralded these works as the “absolute Pinnacle of collectibles that exist in Magic: the Gathering.” He stated that he was making them available to be shared as opposed to being stored in a bank vault, and that they would not be sent to a high end retailer or auction house. He reports that he has already sold two pieces, Mox Sapphire by Dan Frazier and Time Walk by Amy Weber, to Daniel Chang of Vintage Magic, LLC and Brian Weissman, respectively, for over $1 million combined. He has also sold Counterspell by Mark Poole for a reported $220,000 to an unknown buyer. Chang had posted photos of himself with some of these paintings several weeks ago on social media but there was no public information to confirm the purchase until this post.

In terms of provenance, or the history of ownership for these paintings, the post explains that they were originally owned by Wizards of the Coast founder and ex-president Peter Adkinson. Patel had acquired them from Adkinson using Daniel Chang as a broker (or some variation of that relationship/transaction) some time ago. They have remained in his collection since then. Patel also included that he had turned down $1 million offer on Black Lotus previously, and even a $2.5 million offer only three months ago.

On Sunday morning, Patel commented on his post that sales were pending on both the Mox Jet and Farmstead paintings. They have not been confirmed sold as of the writing of this article and there is no public information as to the ongoing price negotiations or at what price they may change hands.

The Hammer & The Art

This story will be updated as more information becomes available, but there are several things worth noting initially.

The first is that, as the prices of Alpha and the rest of the 93/94 “Old School” cards rise, their associated artworks are bound to rise with them. Prior to this post, original art from Alpha was already firmly in the five digit price range. While these paintings are advertised at exceptional price points, there have been several public transactions exceeding $10,000 for art from this time period and a handful of private transactions for considerably more. It’s worth mentioning that these paintings are exceptionally small, on average only 5 inches by 7 inches. The scanners at Wizards of the Coast in 1993 couldn’t handle anything larger than this size. So while new marquee cards are traditionally painted at immense sizes today, almost all the original paintings from this time period are of these (by today’s standards) very small dimensions.

The second thing worth noting is that if the art for Black Lotus changes hands anywhere near the asking price, it will catapult itself onto a record list for fantasy art. The current record holders cannot be clearly named, as the genres of fantasy, science fiction, and Imaginative Realism are not clearly defined in these terms; but we know they are rising, and quickly. In May of 2018, Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer 6 (1990) made headlines when it was sold by Heritage Auctions for a staggering $1,792,000 including buyer’s premium. Patrick Wilshire of IX Arts, a leading authority on Imaginative Realism and expert in the field, also commented on Patel’s Facebook post in response to someone claiming this would be “the” record. He noted the current highest price realized within “fantasy” was for a Frank Frazetta that sold privately for $1.5 million, but if we consider other illustrators who can contemporarily be included in the genre, like Maxfield Parrish, the price to beat then gets closer to $8m. Only time will tell if an Alpha painting from Magic: the Gathering will someday join this list.

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