Here at OMA, we are honored to have members and fellow collectors share their stories of searching for Magic art and how it’s influenced their lives.
Today, we have a two such stories from different perspectives, that of an aspiring grail seeker and the current owner of the piece.
Seeker of the Grail
Has your grail ever been in someone else’s possession and not for sale? This is a quick story about my experience with this situation.
When I first became interested in collecting original art about a year ago, I brainstormed what my top “reasonably attainable” pieces to own would be.
As much as I would love to own Timetwister or Necropotence I thought I would target things a little more within my budget. In the end I came up with a list of 4 primary pieces that would be my absolute “hunt them to the ends of the earth” grails. After browsing through the Original Magic Art galleries, I discovered to my surprise that one of my grail pieces was owned and accounted for already and easily viewed whenever I wanted!
I looked at that image on OMA at least once a day for a couple of weeks before I finally reached out to the owner (Will Larson) on Facebook and asked if he was interested in selling it to me.
Much to my dismay I immediately learned it was not for sale and probably would never be. I was absolutely heartbroken.
Once you’ve gotten really excited about collecting 1 of 1 items for the first time it’s pretty crushing to learn that the piece you want most is already somebody else’s and they don’t want to let it go.
This feeling stuck with me for a bit, but it totally disappeared once I started thinking about it… I think this piece is amazing, and so does Will. If we both agree, then he must be pretty awesome!
From that point on I decided that if I couldn’t own my grail I could at least be friends with the guy who does. Maybe I would get to see it in person one day or he could teach me some of his tricks for locating awesome originals.
We started chatting about the various pieces we saw for sale on eBay, exchanging valuation opinions, sharing framing thoughts, it was actually great to have someone to chat with that shared my taste in MTG art.
I also made sure to let Will know that if he ever changed his mind about selling my grail, I’d have the money ready. I also occasionally joked with him about why he needed to sell it to me, but I also tried really hard to not be pushy or rude about it (and he can correct me if I’m wrong) because I was happy that he owned it.
Out of nowhere a week ago Will sent me a message: “I’ll sell you your grail, I need to buy something bigger”. I was working at the time and that Facebook message ruined my concentration for hours; I was too damn excited about the possibility to think straight.
I never thought the day would come, and although it cost me a little more than I had planned I believe it was absolutely worth it. I don’t really have Will’s perspective on this, but I’d like to hope that our art friendship helped him think of selling my grail to me and softened the blow when he finally let go of it.
I’ve seen a lot of people get themselves bent out of sorts on Facebook when they find out that somebody else owns their grail and it isn’t for sale. Yes some people own a ton of Magic originals and that can be a little overwhelming to newcomers, but they got all those pieces by starting from nothing.
What you are seeing is the natural progression of an earlier start time in the hobby, and maybe just a touch of the dragon’s sickness… But who am I kidding, I only have a few pieces and I DEFINITELY have the dragon’s sickness!
My advice is to use this scenario to make a new friend, as corny as that sounds. I don’t think it will guarantee a chance at your grail, but it certainly does not hurt it and it might really help. Along the way you might also benefit from your grail owner’s experience and insight which I found to be extremely valuable.
So finally, in conclusion, I present the grail piece that I have referenced so fondly: Bad Moon by Gary Leach
I remember, in my younger days, feeling that the white bordered 5th edition card was such an insult to this awesome art.
I really love the unusual color palette and the amazing pose of this dark lady as she is commanding her undead horde. The most striking thing to me about this piece in person is the size! The visible area in the frame is 15.5 inches wide and 12.5 deep which seems remarkably large for the art I’ve seen from that period. It is going to totally dominate the wall when I get it hung.
Thanks for reading, and good luck finding your grail!
The Owner’s Perspective
My quest to find Bad Moon, and then to let it go…
Late in 2012, I started looking for pieces of Magic art that meant something to me as my first purchases were impulse buys. When I learned that I could actually buy original Magic artwork I was so excited that I bought many pieces with a “kid-in-the-candy-store” enthusiasm!!
I started by digging deep online, looking for artist’s emails or collections posted by fans. This was before I learned about TMD and prior to the advent of the Facebook MTG Art Exchange group. OMA didn’t even exist in the form it does now (or at all? I cant remember – Those were truly dark days –Editor).
I didn’t know anyone else collecting and the only people I met at this time were older collectors who mostly collected Comic or Fantasy art but happened to purchase a Magic art piece because it was cool artwork. From what I could tell, there weren’t many people that collected only Magic artwork.
I finally found a piece by an artist I really liked, Bad Moon by Gary Leach, and preceded to contact the owner to see if he would be willing to sell.
Like most people that collect art, they love their artwork and that’s why they bought it in the first place!
He really didn’t want to sell it at that time and I was kind of sad because it was such a large piece of mtg artwork, I really loved the colors, and I had used in several of my black weenie decks. I’m also a sucker for any painting with a moon in the background, don’t ask me why but I happen to love that visual.
A few months went by and the owner decided he was willing to sell it to pick up another piece of artwork he wanted but wanted me to make the first offer.
I wasn’t really sure what a fair price was but I gave him my offer and he responded with a polite – No thank you.
Obviously my offer was a little low, so I wrote him a nice message apologizing but adding that I really didn’t have much of an idea on pricing. At the time eBay was really my only resource for prices, and that was kind of all over the place.
He returned with a price that was close, though I still couldn’t quite afford it, so again I wrote back to please hold on to it and I would try to raise the money. We ended up going back and forth via email and for a while it didn’t look like it would work out.
Around the same time I ended up purchasing Dungrove Elder, which I really loved and that totally blew my budget, making this deal even less likely to close.
Luckily, the collector kept his word and a few months later we worked out the final price plus shipping. Finally it is mine right?
Arranging the deal had taken a few months and in that time I had talked to him quite a bit, so I felt I had gotten to know and trust him. However, I hadn’t ever phoned him and I made the check out to a different name than the name he went by on his email account. I didn’t think anything of it at the time but when the painting didn’t show up for a week or two I started to freak out.
Did I mention that it was coming from Europe and sometimes shipments from that side of the Atlantic tend to get mysteriously delayed?
Slightly concerned, I emailed him a few times and he assured me it was on its way and to be patient as he had sent it via post office. I asked for a tracking number…no response. More concern.
After four weeks I figured I was stupid, got scammed and there was nothing I could do about it. He was in the UK and I am in the US so there goes that money and I should have known better. Going for the hail mary, I wrote him another email at this point hoping to hear back.
A week after I sent that “final” email I get an email from the owner saying that he had gone on vacation and somehow the Bad Moon painting had been returned to him, unable to be delivered. I am not sure if the address he put on was wrong or if they just didn’t knock on my door or what.
I can’t tell you how happy I was when the painting did finally arrive three weeks later.
Triumphant and relieved, I framed the painting and hung it in my apartment where it sat for quite a while. Eventually, when I moved to a house, I hung it prominently near the entrance so I could see it every day when I came home from work.
Fast forward to 2015. Kyle messages me that Bad Moon is his grail and he really loves the art. I say, “boy do I have a story to tell you….” and the rest is history.
Kyle is an awesome guy and I’m happy he is now the current owner of Bad Moon.
Thank you to Will and Kyle for sharing their passion for Magic art and the tale of their search.
Do you want to share your own Grail hunting story? We’d love to hear it!