Collectible Investments: What wealthy collectors want

There has been an explosion in the value of toys for grown ups: classic cars, watches, jewelry. All this inessential stuff that those with huge wallets are collecting and investing in.
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Courtesy of Barnebys

There has been an explosion in the value of toys for grown ups: classic cars, watches, jewelry. All this inessential stuff that those with huge wallets are collecting and investing in.

Global art and collectibles search engine Barnebys has been monitoring this front for the past year. It represents billions of dollars of luxury item buying.

A good example of the strength of this sector is the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which sold at auction in August 2018 for a record US $48 million. Photo courtesy RM Sotheby’s

A good example of the strength of this sector is the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which sold at auction in August 2018 for a record US $48 million.Photo courtesy RM Sotheby’s

Barnebys is a leading auction aggregator, monitoring a database of what is selling around the world for record prices and tracking sales of art, antiques and collectibles from 3,000 auctioneers, who are client subscribers to their system in Europe, Asia and the United States.

Pontus Silfverslope, one of the founders of Barnebys, says: “Interest in the top end, the very, very best of each collecting category, has gone through the roof in the last 25 years.Much in evidence in many of our auction house clients around the world is bidding at the highest level for items that are really coveted by the billionaires. There is no sign that we can see of any lessening of the desire to acquire the ultimate in everything of value.”

“The main action now lies with wine, cars, diamonds and watches. Thanks to the increased global market, greater transparency in the auction sector and a favorable economic situation with good growth in major parts of the world, interest in the auction market has increased. Many wealthy people see these new collectibles as a good investment and also a fun investment where the return is more than money in the bank.”

“I would say that you should not invest in art to speculate, but to consume,” Silfverslope continues. “The same applies when buying a Ferrari from the 1960s or a Rolex Daytona watch. The cars are beautiful in the garage and wristwatch in the wardrobe, but the biggest benefit is being able to make use these things – to drive the car and to wear the watch.

“These collecting areas have skyrocketed in recent years and growth has been enormous. Many millionaires have discovered the pleasure and excitement of the auction market thanks to these categories – cars, wine, watches and jewelry. And some people have become millionaires thanks to their forgotten treasures in the attic or the basement,” he says.

Collectible investments: Classic cars

The number of classic cars sold at auction every year keeps rising, so if you are looking for something classic, auction houses are a good place to start your search. Top classic car auction houses include RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams, H&H Classics, Gooding & Co., Barrett Jackson, Artcurial, Aguttes, and Russo and Steele.

The most famous automotive brands like Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin or Bugatti, to name just a few, have been attracting a broader audience each year and are the object of fierce auctions. With the internationalization of auction houses, sales are increasing and interest is spreading.

According to “The Wealth Report” published by Knight Frank, classic cars are, in the long-term, a better investment than art and show an impressive progression of 334 percent over the past 10 years.

Collectible investments: Watches

Paul Newman Rolex Daytona, made in the late 1960s, sold at auction in 2017 for a record US $17.75 million. Photo courtesy Phillips

Paul Newman Rolex Daytona, made in the late 1960s, sold at auction in 2017 for a record US $17.75 million. Photo courtesy Phillips

Not since the Renaissance has the fascination with watchesbeen as great as now says Barnebys, which offers a total of 65 million prices achieved at auctions worldwide.

This astonishing database is a gold mine for tracking down trend information and currently the watch market is going ballistic according to Barnebys figures. Barnebys’ affiliated auction houses and traders offer approximately 1 million searchable items daily.

It’s the exclusive watch brands that are the hottest ticket on the auction market, which continue to make records at auction. This classic status symbol worn on one’s wrist has become a popular collector’s item and is now one of the most collectible of categories which include wine, cars, art and antiques.

The most searched for watch brand is Rolex, followed by Omega and Patek Philippe. Unlike most other collecting areas, wrist watches attract a younger audience. Over 90 percent of the searches on Barnebys are made by men between 18-34. But more and more women are also looking for exclusive wristwatches. Today, the watch market is one of the hottest in the auction world.

Paul Newman’s legendary Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona sold for £13,545,848 ($17,752,500; €15,228,0950), a new world record for a wristwatch at auction. The timepiece sold to an anonymous bidder on the phone after 12 minutes of spirited bidding at Phillips in New York last year.

Collectible investments: Jewelry

This fancy Vivid Pink diamond sold by Christie’s last year for $28.5 million was described as the “Rolls Royce of diamonds.”

This fancy Vivid Pink diamond sold by Christie’s last year for $28.5 million was described as the “Rolls Royce of diamonds.”

Jewelry has continued to perform well over the past decade. Jewelry is as subject to fashion as any other commodity says Barnebys and jewelry from the 1960s and 1970s is extremely desirable at the moment. There is also a real interest for signed art deco jewelry, viewed by collectors as small works of art. But it is the great white diamonds, the colored diamonds, the colored gemstones – sapphires, emeralds and rubies – and the very best pearls that are currently commanding the most excitement in auction rooms.

Collectible investments: Wine and whisky

There has been something of an earthquake in the wine world with the major sales now taking place in Hong Kong where enormous air conditioned cellars keep premier vintages cool.

A bottle of Japanese whisky sold at Hong Kong’s Bonhams Whisky Sale for $343,000 (US), toppling both its estimated sale price and the previous world record for a single bottle of Japanese whisky.

The bottle in question was a 50-year-old Yamazaki, a rare single malt. Yamazaki is Japan’s oldest whisky distillery, and first opened in 1923. The Drinks Business notes that the bottle, first released in 2005, is one of only 50 made by the distillery; it was matured in mizunara (Japanese Oak) casks and is “thought to be the oldest Yamazaki on the market.”

The prices for Scotch whisky is far higher. On Oct. 3, Bonhams-Edinburgh auctioned a bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami Scotch whisky for US $1.1 million. The blue-chip beverage was distilled in 1926 and bottled in 1986. According to a news release from Bonhams, “This is believed to be the most valuable item ever sold at auction in Scotland.”

Wine is making steady strides as an investment. The Jeroboam of 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild sold for $310,700 in February 2007 at Sotheby’s. In 2015, The Setting, a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, sold at the Emeril Lagasse Foundation charity auction for $350,000.

Investment-value handbags

The matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond bag by Hermes Birkin. It is the current luxury handbag world record holder sold for £208,250.

The matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond bag by Hermes Birkin. It is the current luxury handbag world record holder sold for £208,250. Courtesy of Christie's

The value of branded women’s handbags have gone through the roof and today are one of the most collectible alternate investment categories at auction says Barnebys.

“So next time your partner says that she wants a handbag and the price horrifies you, just think that it may in fact prove to be an investment,” says Silfverstolpe.

The new world record is held by a matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond bag by Hermès Birkin designed by Jean Paul Gaultier. It sold at a Christie’s Hong Kong auction in June 2016 for £208,250. It was described by Christie’s as the “rarest, most sought-after, most valuable bag. Only one or two of the Diamond Himalayas are produced each year.’’

At any given time, Barnebys hosts over a half million items for sale through about 1,600 auction houses worldwide. To view what’s available, visit Barnebys.co.uk.

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