On April 11th, the original painting and sketch for Aaron Miller’s Totally Lost was sold on the MTG Art Market for a combined $3,900; the painting sold for $3,150 and the sketch for $750.

The Facts

Totally Lost by Aaron Miller, oil on panel, 14” x 18”

Totally Lost by Aaron Miller is a work of oil on panel (in this case Masonite) measuring 14 inches by 18 inches, and its accompanying sketch is a work of colored pencil and white chalk on tan toned paper measuring 11 inches by 14 inches. This painting was commissioned for Magic’s newest set, War of the Spark, and features two prominent characters from Ravnica history and this current storyline, both Fblthp and the likeness of Nicol Bolas. We will be seeing much more of them in the coming weeks in other art from this set that is crossing the auction block.

The card is a reprint of Totally Lost from Gatecrash, featuring the same subject in a slightly different setting. The previous work quickly became a fan favorite. It’s only fitting Wizards not only reprint this card, but give fans the same thing in art and flavor they loved so much the first time.

The Hammer

Miller chose to run his own seven day auction on the MTG Art Market, asking for an opening bid of $2,000 on the painting and $300 on the sketch. A work that contains both Fblthp and Bolas was sure to get attention, and bidding commenced almost immediately after posting. By the end of Day 1 the painting and sketch sat comfortably at $2,400 and $500, respectively. After a brief weekend calm, bidding slowly resumed until the final hours, when those interested made their move to acquire these works. The sketch would only push a bit further to a final price of $750, but the painting would continue on in auction “overtime” until the same purchaser was the last man standing at $3,150.

This is one of the rare times we see a collector make a concerted push to own all pieces of a single work. In many cases, those that purchase paintings have a limited interest in sketches or preliminaries, and vice versa—lots of folks only like to purchase sketches or color studies as opposed to fully finished traditional works. To have these two pieces stay together is exciting; if they would ever need to be found again, like for an art show or exhibition, the community knows where both are at one time. It will also be interesting to see how the winning bidder frames these works, whether together, separate, or maybe even not at all.

The Art

This is not the first time Fblthp has been Totally Lost on Ravnica. He first went missing during Gatecrash, caught amongst the hustle and bustle of the streets:

Totally Lost by David Palumbo, oil on illustration board, 11” x 15,” private collection.

And now our small green friend has gotten himself into another pickle, lost on top of the God-Pharaoh Statue high above the streets and in his same extremely nervous and cowering position.

Aaron Miller’s perspective here will make even the most surefooted viewer feel uneasy. Our eye first sees the platform Fblthp stands upon, and then zooms to focus on the homunculus. But once we recognize who is standing there, it feels like looking over the edge a cliff as you realize just how high you are. The pastel purple city tops we have seen repeated through War of the Spark are something I really love about this latest Ravnica set. They bathe the world in a light we haven’t seen before, almost a “deep breath before the plunge” before the sky fills with smoke and fire. Miller’s architectural background is simply breathtaking.

This is a wonderful work of whimsy, plain and simple, and the collectors of original Magic art responded with fantastic interest. Does Fblthp ever find his way down? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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