Masterpiece (game)

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Designer(s) Marvin Glass
Publisher(s) Parker Brothers
Players 3-6
Setup time 5-10 minutes
Playing time 1 hour
Random chance a little
Skill(s) required Bluffing

Masterpiece is a board game by Parker Brothers, now a brand of Hasbro. Players participate in auctions for famous works of art. It was invented by Joseph M. Burck of Marvin Glass and Associates and originally published in 1970 by Parker Brothers, and then published again in 1976 and 1996. The game is now out-of-print. In this game, players compete with other players to bid on potentially valuable paintings, and negotiate with other players to trade these works of art, build a portfolio, amass money, and win the game. The top value of a painting in the 1970 edition is $1 million, and $10 million in the 1996 edition; however, getting the full value for the painting requires some luck in landing on the right square on the board to sell a painting to the bank.

The game utilizes bluffing skills because the players possess asymmetrical information about the value of the paintings they possess. Some pictures are known to their owners to be 'forgeries' with an actual value of zero. These 'forgeries' can, however, be resold to other players or to the bank with the value hidden.


Original U.S. Release (1970)[edit]

  1. The game box is in English only.
  2. A green-backed game board
  3. Play money with denominations colored in gray($50,000), yellow($100,000), brown($500,000), and olive green($1,000,000).
  4. The play money says “Masterpiece” on the top and the value on the bottom.
  5. There are 24 Value cards ranging in value from $0 (forgery) to $1,000,000.
  6. There are 6 Value Chart cards with both a list of the available values in the Value card deck, as well as the bios of the characters seen on the box front. (These cards are the same size as the Value cards.)
  7. There are 24 Painting cards (sized measuring 14 cm x 9 cm (5.5” x 3.5”)) that contain paintings on display at the National Gallery in London, England, such as Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers, Paul Cézanne’s Aix: Paysage Rocheux, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Les Parapluies and Claude-Oscar Monet’s The Beach at Trouville.

Canadian Release (1970)[edit]

Differs by:

  1. The game box has slightly darker tones and richer colors, with both English and French on the cover.
  2. The game board has a dark brown backing (the front is the same as the standard version)
  3. The play money has denominations colored in yellow($50,000), brown($100,000), olive($500,000, and blue($1,000,000).
  4. The play money has English on the bottom and French on the top (for example: One Million and Un Million). The word “Masterpiece” is not written on the play money.
  5. The Value Chart cards have no character bios on them.

Release (1976)[edit]

Differs from Original by:

  1. The box color now sported a green-tinged motif.
  2. The box art shows talking paintings replacing the art auction characters.
  3. The Value Chart cards have no character bios on them.
  4. A completely different painting card set featuring paintings on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. Paintings include such works as Hans Hofmann’s The Golden Wall, Peter Blume’s The Rock, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait and Pablo Picasso’s Sylvette (Portrait of Mlle. D.)

Release (1996)[edit]

differs from Original by:

  1. The box cover brought back the concept of art auction characters (featuring a rather surprised blonde lady surrounded by a variety of other characters) with a red-tinged background.
  2. The Value Chart cards have no character bios on them but a box insert discusses each of the art collector characters in detail.
  3. The play money has much higher denominations, with denominations of $500,000, $1,000,000, $5,000,000, and $10,000,000.
  4. The Value cards reduced in size to 7.5cm x 4.5 cm (3” x 1.8”) and increased in number from 24 to 42 with the top value at $10,000,000.
  5. A plastic art display easel was included to aid in the auctioning process.
  6. The Painting cards remain the same size as previous editions, but feature different paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, such as Paul Cézanne’s The Basket of Apples, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks at the Diner, James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Violet and Silver – The Deep Sea, Paul Gauguin’s Old Women of Arles, and Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles.


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