On Thursday May 30, 2018, the original painting for Svetlin Velinov’s The First Sliver sold on the MTG Art Market for $12,500. The sketch also sold on the same night for $1,325. It is only the second traditionally-painted Magic illustration by the artist.

The Facts

The First Sliver by Svetlin Velinov, acrylic on hardboard, 13.2” x 19.2”

The First Sliver by Svetlin Velinov is a large work of acrylic on hardboard measuring 13.2 inches x 19.2 inches. This Modern Horizons star heralds the return and resurgence of the Sliver tribe in Magic. It is the second traditional painting by Velinov released for Magic, and was actually the first he ever painted despite its release date. The accompanying sketch is graphite on paper and measures 9.6 inches by 12.5 inches. It was the only preliminary piece offered alongside the painting.

The First Sliver (Sketch) by Svetlin Velinov graphite on paper, 9.6” x 12.5”

The card will be a new EDH General and staple in Sliver-themed Commander decks, and could even find a home in Modern and Legacy Aether Vial Sliver strategies. The card will see considerable play and will not be soon forgotten by the community.

The Hammer

The auction was run by Mark Aronowitz acting as agent for the artist on the MTG Art Market. The opening bid was set at $2,000 with a modest reserve, though it turns out that wouldn’t much matter. Within twenty minutes of auction start, the $4,000 reserve was met. Bidding continued throughout the day, and by the end of the first day the painting had reached $8,500. It would push a bit farther to $10,000 over the next few days, to $11,000 near the end, and then to a final price realized to $12,500 from a private and still unknown bidder.

The auction for the sketch was matched with equal zeal. It crested the $1,000 mark on the first day, an uncommonly high amount had this been an average preliminary piece. As the painting moved further from reach for all but a few, the sketch increments kept climbing until it finished at $1,325, a bit more than 10% of the painting, to another unknown private bidder. While this total is no small amount, it is a way for someone to add a piece of this marquee card to their collection at a fraction of the price.

The Art

Chronologically, this was the first traditional Magic illustration by the artist, although his traditionally-rendered Roalesk, Apex Hybrid was actually released first for the previous expansion War of the Spark. (I included it in my grand art tour for War of the Spark.) Of Velinov’s nearly 250 Magic illustrations, only these two have physical final paintings.

Slivers have a long and storied history in Magic, and the depiction of this progenitor of the species does their legacy well. The illustration is smooth yet primordial, a contemporary painting of an ancient and unknown being.

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It’s been quite some time since a new, original Sliver artwork was offered for sale. When it comes to Sliver legends specifically, the traditional paintings all reside in permanent, private collections. This was a once-in-a-decade chance to buy an important Silver card, and at the same time a rare opportunity to buy a traditional Velinov painting.

The combination yielded fantastic and exceptional results.

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