Over the weekend of November 6th and 7th, 2021, Heritage Auctions sold seven pieces of original Magic: the Gathering artwork, including three pieces of traditional illustration found in the game’s first set, Limited Edition Alpha.

The works were all sold as a part of Heritage Auctions Signature® Floor Session—Trading Card Games (Live Floor, Live Phone, Mail, Fax, Internet, and Heritage Live), Lots 36001-36261, that began at 1:00 PM Central Time, Saturday, November 6, 2021. Here are the results, work by work, in the order in which they were sold.

(All Images courtesy Heritage Auctions; All Prices presented with 20% Buyer’s Premium)

First to be sold were the three works from Alpha:

Benalish Hero by Douglas Shuler, mixed media on illustration board, 6.5” x 8”

Benalish Hero sold for $43,200 with Buyer’s Premium.

This work was public facing for a short time as a fractional investment option from Mythic Markets. When the company closed out their trading operation, they were required to liquidate their assets, and this work came to auction. Giant Growth also belonged to the company, but it is unknown whether any of the other works were a part of that required sale.

Giant Growth by Sandra Everingham, oil on canvas, 8.5” x 10”

Giant Growth sold for $40,800 with Buyer’s Premium.

This work was also held by Mythic Markets, but was never offered as an option for fractional investment.

Island Sanctuary by Mark Poole, mixed media, 10” x 11.5”

Island Sanctuary sold for $66,000 with Buyer’s Premium.

Island Sanctuary surfaced on the MTG Art Market on Facebook this past June, with the original owner, having owned it since childhood, now seeking to sell it given the rising tide of the game’s artwork. It was the top lot of the three Alpha works, no doubt due in part to its freshness to the market.

There were also a handful of other early or important Magic paintings from across the first years of the game:

Craw Giant by Christopher Rush, mixed media on illustration board, 6.5” x 7.5”

Craw Giant sold for $22,800 with Buyer’s Premium.

The late Christopher Rush was a titan in terms of the early development of Magic, and as such his paintings, especially those from the first few years of the game, are highly sought after.

Morale by Mark Poole, mixed media, 10” x 11”

Morale sold for $8,100 with Buyer’s Premium.

This work was sold on eBay for $27,766 back in April alongside Poole’s Ali from Cairo. It doesn’t look like this quick flip, if that’s indeed what was intended, paid off very well.

Truce by Melissa Benson, mixed media, 5.5” x 7”

Truce sold for $4,440 with Buyer’s Premium.

This is an early card by one of Magic’s original 25 artists, and was a great opportunity for a collector to add a piece of nostalgia to their collection.

Coastal Piracy by Matthew Wilson, mixed media on illustration board, 9.25” x 10.5”

Coastal Piracy sold for $3,840 with Buyer’s Premium.

An all-star card in Magic’s most popular format, this work was offered within several Facebook groups over the last few years. Perhaps now it’s found its forever home.

Wrapping Up

In short, these works did as expected. The $40-60K range seems to be the median for works from Alpha that do not have particular artistic or in-game nostalgic significance. The last offering of early Magic work at Heritage, Demonic Tutor, performed better but was a different caliber of paintings and importance altogether.

And as far as the other paintings, the popularity of Christopher Rush’s work after his passing has continued to rise; he was such an important piece of Magic: the Gathering, and that seems to continue to be fully realized. And the other two paintings sold for fair prices, not newsworthy but by no means an absolute steal.

With the way of the current world it’s impossible to tell if the market for Magic originals is coasting along a comfortable plateau or is prepared to take back off as things stabilize. Stay tuned to the Art Market Minute here on Hipsters of the Coast to find out.

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