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Headlines and Highlights: Week of June 30th

Headlines and Highlights: Week of June 30th
June 30, 2023
Keenan Flack

London-based Cult Wines Lock Down Major Backing in Seed Deal

The News: The £1.7m seed round in the wine investment firm was populated with a coterie of big name investors in the luxury, finance, and technology sectors.

Initiative: The recent investment round is spearheaded by Christophe Navarre, the previous chief and chairman of Moet-Hennessy, and backed by notable figures including F1 star Valtteri Bottas.

Process: Alongside Bottas and Navarre, other significant investors include Chris Jones, the former Blackrock CIO of Global Active Equities, and Reda Bedjaoui, the founder of fintech firm Privat 3 Money. Navarre and Jones have further committed their expertise as strategic advisors on the board.

Tech: Cult Wines, which came into existence in 2007, operates two distinct divisions: Cult Wine Investment, a portfolio service managing investments, and CultX, a digital platform facilitating the purchase and sale of investment-grade fine wines. The firm manages an impressive fine wine collection valued at over £290m.

Impact: The investment amplifies Cult Wines' determination to reshape the fine wine market, according to Tom Gearing, CEO and co-founder of Cult Wines. As interest in wine investment surges, figures like Navarre foresee Cult Wines playing an instrumental role in molding the future of the fine wine market, despite a slowdown in investments during the first quarter of 2023. WINEINDUSTRYADVISOR

Handbag ‘smaller than a grain of salt’ sells for over $63,000


The News: A microscopically small handbag, modeled after a popular Louis Vuitton design, has been sold for a staggering $63,000 at an online auction.

Initiative: The art collective MSCHF, based in Brooklyn, is behind the creation of the "Microscopic Handbag". Despite its resemblance to a Louis Vuitton bag, the tiny accessory is an independent project of the collective and has not been endorsed by the luxury fashion house. The sale was facilitated by Joopiter, an online auction platform founded by American musician and record producer Pharrell Williams, who also currently serves as Louis Vuitton’s creative director of menswear.

Tech: The bag was sold alongside a microscope fitted with a digital display, enabling buyers to view the bag. Despite its microscopic size, the handbag features Louis Vuitton's signature "LV" monogram and appears to be based on the French label's OnTheGo tote.

Impact: The MSCHF collective, known for its provocative art projects that often satirize consumer capitalism, views this tiny handbag as a critique of the fashion industry's obsession with branding and the steady abstraction of functional accessories into pure brand signifiers. The handbag's sale symbolizes the idea that luxury items have transitioned from practical objects to mere jewelry, with functionality often compromised. CNN

Collectibles Happenings

Ryan Hockensmith at ESPN outlines the life changing, lottery-esque nature of box breaks and how the trend has come to dominate the hobby. ESPN

Speculation mounts as Lebron James’ name leaves the list of “Exclusive Athletes” on the Upper Deck site. Lebron first signed with Upper Deck in 2003 as he was gearing up to go #1 in the draft. TWITTER

Sotheby's is launching the ‘Gen Art Program’, a blockchain-based initiative to promote and sell the works of generative artists through on-chain auctions. The program's inaugural auction, scheduled for July 26, will feature work by artist Vera Molnár. The sale will be a Dutch auction, with prices starting high and incrementally decreasing until the first bid is placed. THEBLOCK

Gustav Klimt canvas, ‘Dame mit Fächer’, sold at Sotheby’s London for 85.3 million pounds with fees ($108.4mm). The price was both a record for the artist and for the continent, breaking the 2010 sale of an Alberto Giacometti sculpture for $104.3 million in London. NYTIMES

Trading card company Panini America has announced a multi-year trading card and autograph deal with high school basketball player Tre Johnson, marking the company's first contract with a high school athlete. SPORTSCOLLECTORSDAILY

Famed Michael Jordan Olympic Reebok jacket went up for sale at Sotheby’s this week against an estimate of $1-$3 million. The piece ended up selling within the range at $1,512,000. SOTHEBYS


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Or check out this week's Alts and Ends, where you will find these three stories:

Collecting in Context

Recent attempts by card grading companies Beckett and CGC to change their grading scales have stirred controversy within the collector's community. While Beckett scrapped their plans due to severe backlash against perceived devaluation of their 9.5-graded cards, CGC's merger-driven scale changes have received a more mixed response, highlighting the stability of the incumbent leader, PSA, whose grading scale remains unchanged.

Wild for Wembanyama

The basketball card market is in dire need of a new superstar to revitalize it, as falling prices for high-profile players' cards demonstrate a significant downturn. Victor Wembanyama, an up-and-coming player, is seen as a potential savior for the market, but complications due to licensing and autograph agreements, notably between Panini and Fanatics, might inhibit the full potential of his card market.

Falling Out of Thin AIR...

Despite the Air Jordan 1's mainstream popularity, its resale market has weakened, partially due to consumers' financial strain and reduced spending on discretionary items like expensive sneakers, leading to smaller resale premiums or even discounts. Nike, facing the challenge of balancing product availability with maintaining the brand's appeal, may have to adjust supply to ensure the long-term health of the iconic Jordan 1 brand.

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