On Sunday February 17th, 2019, a collector’s suite of artwork by Seb McKinnon for his painting Bedevil was sold on the MTG Art Market for $5,600.

The Bedevil Collectors Suite by Seb McKinnon

The Facts

Bedevil by Seb McKinnon, 1/1 archival quality giclée on canvas, 18” x 24”

Bedevil by Seb McKinnon was completed digitally, and thus no final traditional example exists. Instead of a single painting, this group of works was comprised of three pieces. Combined into one collection were the original pencil and gouache sketch (16” x 20”), a 1/1 archival quality giclée on canvas with color sketch (18” x 24”) on reverse, and a fully painted foil artist proof.

Seb McKinnon has previously offered any sort of traditional component for his MTG work only once, and his 1/1 giclée canvases, each with a Certificate of Authenticity verifying they will never be printed again, are very new but have gotten considerable recent attention from collectors.

I was able to catch up with Seb right after the auction ended, and he was nothing short of overjoyed:

“What a surprise! The earnings from this sale are going towards the funding of my KIN Fables feature film, earning the auction winner their name in the credits as a bonus. I will also be donating a portion to a charity very close to my heart: Pure Art Foundation, in memory of my brother. Really grateful!”

The Hammer

Bedevil Sketch by Seb McKinnon, graphite and gouache, 16” x 20”

The sketch for Bedevil was first posted on Twitter by the artist on December 20, 2018 shortly after the card’s previewing, and got quite the reaction, gathering up 204 retweets and 1200+ likes. Seb noted in a response to the post it would be for sale, and after what was probably a barrage of inquiries he explained it would be auctioned at a later date.

That date came on February 7th, 2019 when the artist gave fair warning on Twitter and the MTG Art Market that the auction would begin the following day, and it certainly seemed to have readied the bidders. The $500 opening bid was achieved almost instantly, and bids flew in over the next few hours. Increments increased from $100 at a time to $250 at a time, and even known community member and Magic Pro Gerry Thompson threw his hat in the ring, pushing the bid to $3,500 near the end of Day 1.

The grouping would push even further the following day before arriving at $4,500, which would become its plateau for the remainder of the auction until the closing minutes. As is with many auctions, bidding resumed in the final half hour with two public and one private bidder vying for the suite and sending the final sale price to an exceptional $5,600. The lot was sold to a publicly-bidding collector.

An incredible work should indeed achieve an incredible price, and more than a few factors were at play here. Seb’s Magic art is extremely popular, and the opportunities to buy a traditional work by his hand are all but non-existent. This is also the first public offering of his limited giclée canvases and painted artist proofs—these are currently not and won’t be readily available on the art market. Combine that with the beginning of US tax return season and the fact that the traditional “flood” of art from Ravnica Allegiance has finally run dry, and you have the perfect storm to foster this successful surprise.

Foil Bedevil Artist Proof w/ full painted reverse

The Art

Seb McKinnon is in a league all his own when it comes to Magic illustration, operating on an entirely different axis of concept and style. His multiple illustrations for Ravnica Allegiance, Bedevil included, have helped shaped the way we imagine this city-plane.

Bedevil has such immense story-telling woven into the piece, and it’s facets that are symbolic of both Ravnica and Rakdos are so very sharp. Add in that’s its pure Seb McKinnon, unmistakably indicative of his style, and you have an all-star work of art. It’s one of my favorite pieces from the set and I included it in my Art Grand Tour, saying:

“I knew I would be including at least one piece by Seb McKinnon (he had five in the set), but the question of which one remained until near the end of this article. Bedevil was one of the first cards previewed in this set, and it’s such a perfect illustration of the Cult of Rakdos. The antagonizing characters torment the female subject, and yet their jeering masks evoke the idea it could indeed be some sort of near-acceptable cruel show. It’s a fantastic piece of art from color to composition, and Seb’s overall residence on Ravnica has fundamentally helped shape the look and feel of this set.”

Traditional sketch on reverse of the Bedevil canvas

If you’re interested in learning more about Seb McKinnon and his work in and outside of Magic, check out my Behind the Brush interview with him from earlier this year. He’s doing big things in the worlds of fantasy and film, and I can’t wait to see what’s next from him.

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