On Monday September 16, 2019, the original painting for Matt Stewart’s Once Upon a Time was sold on the MTG Art Market for a marvelous $9200!

Once Upon a Time by Matt Stewart, oil on Ampersand gessoboard, 18” x 24”

Once Upon a Time by Matt Stewart is a tremendous work of oil on Ampersand gessoboard, the artist’s go-to medium, measuring and uncommonly large 18 inches by 24 inches. It was commissioned for the new Magic expansion Throne of Eldraine, and plays very much in both  title and depiction into the fantasy tropes interwoven throughout the 300-card set.

The auction was run by Vorthos Mike acting as agent for the artist, and exclusively on the MTG Art Market. The $4000 opening bid was placed immediately, and rose to $6200 by the end of the first day. It would remain at that number until just inside 20 minutes to go, and from there the market would witness one of the longest bidding wars in recent memory. Private bidders kept Vorthos Mike glued to his keyboard for more than an hour, as the painting incrementally rose to the fabulous finish of $9200!

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We can’t finish this recap without a look at the art: Matt Stewart is so very good at what he does. Look at the tiny details in the soldier’s regalia and the deep background of the forest. The man leaves no nuance unaccounted for, and it’s what set’s illustrations like these apart from some of the rest.

As for the card, it stands to make a huge splash across multiple Magic formats, and that very well may have also contributed to the bidding battle in pursuit of this work. Statistical Magic Wizard Frank Karsten broke down the numbers on just what sort of impact this card may have in his Channel Fireball article. Based on this very early research, Once Upon a Time will be seeing a lot of play for a long time to come.

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