-New Venture: The Realest is stepping into the colossal $400 billion collectibles arena with a unique focus on music memorabilia. Their aim is to establish a dedicated marketplace coupled with robust authentication standards.
-Significance: Music artists are globally adored figures, but their memorabilia holds a relatively small portion of the booming collectibles industry. The Realest plans to alter this dynamic by sourcing items directly from artists and applying cutting-edge authentication tech, offering collectors and fans a trusted platform to transact on. The post claims that the company will “give artists an entirely new revenue stream, with royalties for life (!!!)”; a significant potential value add for artists looking to diversify revenue streams away from, well, streaming.
-Personnel: Founded by DJ and entrepreneur Scott Keeney aka DJ Skee, in the post he announces what looks like the company’s first hire: Venika Streeter. Streeter formerly ran a team of authenticators at the Minnesota Twins.
-Final Thoughts: The Realest is poised to make waves in the industry by creating a distinct marketplace for verified music memorabilia and providing artists with a unique revenue stream in the form of lifetime royalties.
-New Venture: Masterworks' executive vice president Evan Beard is heading up a new subsidiary: Level & Co., a New York City-based art gallery with a twist. It's not just any art gallery - Level & Co. is set to operate as an art market merchant bank, meaning it will be selling works from Masterworks and other institutional collections.
-Significance: Level & Co. is diving into the high-stakes world of art dealing with a specific focus on post-war and contemporary pieces valued above $1 million. The gallery plans to collaborate with key art market players like galleries, art advisors, auction houses, and even artist estates and foundations. It could see Masterworks extracting more value out of the hundred or so paintings they have bought and sold to investors so far.
-Personnel: Beard, who built Bank of America's Art Services Group into the world's largest art-secured lender, will be joined by Katherine Reid, formerly of Art Agency Partners and Sotheby's. Together, they've already sold $45 million worth of art in the past year, and their new venture will allow them to bring even more works to market.
-Trouble: As a subsidiary of Masterworks, Level & Co. may need to navigate some reported internal problems at the company.The allegations mentioned in the Artnews report, while dismissed by Masterworks, could potentially harm the reputation of the new venture, given its close association. The art market merchant bank model that Level & Co. plans to adopt is also largely untested, posing potential regulatory challenges, similar to those reported at Masterworks by the NY Post.
-Final Thoughts: Level & Co. is entering the high-end art scene with an interesting model, blending the worlds of art and banking. By providing a unique platform for the trade of high-value art pieces and market analytics, it's making a bold statement in the art market. Masterworks changed the game with Reg A fractionalized offerings of A+ paintings—can it leverage that success to further art market dominance?
-What's New: Beckett Collectibles just announced the appointment of Kevin Isaacson as its new CEO. Isaacson is an industry veteran with over 25 years of experience spanning various sectors like media, manufacturing, and e-commerce. He's not a stranger to the Beckett Group, having previously led Beckett's acquisition of Southern Hobby, where he was CEO for two years.
-Hobby Experience: Isaacson's role in leading Southern Hobby, a key distributor in the industry, and Arcane Tinmen, a leading TCG accessory creator, will likely play a crucial part in Beckett's continued success and growth.
-Alignment: Isaacson's close relationship with Beckett's founder, Dr. James Beckett, adds a layer of continuity to this leadership change. Their long history, combined with Isaacson's knowledge of the industry and previous involvement with Beckett, could ensure a smooth transition and a shared strategic vision.
-The Bottom Line: Isaacson's appointment as CEO of Beckett could have significant implications for the broader collectibles industry. As the market continues to develop with Fanatics signing new deals every month or so, we will see if Isaacson is able to navigate Beckett through it successfully.
Artist Tom Sachs has publicly apologized for his treatment of former staff members following allegations of a hostile work environment, which led to Nike discontinuing its lucrative sneaker deal with him. The apology comes in the wake of reports describing his alleged verbal abuse, tantrums, and inappropriate behavior, all of which have resulted in a reputational crisis for Sachs and changes to his studio's workplace policies. NY TIMES
The upcoming May marquee auctions in New York are forecasted to be underwhelming compared to previous years, with the combined estimated value of Christie's three main sales far below last year's. Despite the overall bleak outlook, Jean-Michel Basquiat's "El Gran Espectaculo" (The Nile) with an undisclosed estimate of $45 million, and Agnes Pelton’s The Fountains, 1926, with an estimate almost ten times her previous record, are among the works that could outperform expectations. MUTUALART
Steinway, the New York-based piano manufacturer, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO) after being taken private by Paulson & Co. in 2013. The company reported $59 million net income on $538 million in revenue for 2021. Maybe a bit removed from our standard collectible news fare, but Steinway pianos have sold for prices into the 7-figures. Going public will afford analysts the ability to better understand luxury businesses like Steinway. AXIOS
Michael Jordan's "Dream Team" Reebok jacket from the 1992 Summer Olympics is up for auction in a single-lot sale at Sotheby's, expected to fetch up to $3 million. The jacket, consigned by former longtime NBA media relations chief Brian McIntyre, was worn by Jordan during the gold medal ceremony and is noted for being controversial as Jordan, known Nike endorser, used an American flag to cover the Reebok logo. BARRONS
A check from Steve Jobs, dated 1976, has been sold at auction for $106,985, over 400% of the initial estimate of $25,000. The check was payable to a management consulting firm, Crampton, Remke & Miller, Inc., and signifies a key moment in Apple's early history. If anyone wants to do the math to see if this $175 check appreciated faster than shares in apple, please let us know how it shakes out; think we’d rather have the apple stock though. RRAUCTION
A small self-portrait by Andy Warhol, previously owned by art dealer Richard Polsky and now in the possession of Finnish collector John Lindell, is going up for auction at Phillips, with an estimated value between $800,000 and $1.2 million. This sale rekindles Polsky's regret of selling the piece too soon, as chronicled in his books "I Bought Andy Warhol" and "I Sold Andy Warhol (Too Soon): A Memoir." ARTNET
Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden announced plans to sell the company's $1.3 billion worth of unsold Yeezy products, with proceeds donated to charities supporting people affected by Kanye West's controversial actions. This solution aims to balance reputational risks and sustainability concerns following their split with West due to his repeated antisemitic comments. SPORTICO Check out the second Story in this week's Alts & Ends for a breakdown of the sneaker resale market.
A rare, first-printing Jimi Hendrix 1968 "Flying Eyeball" concert poster, signed by artist Rick Griffin and graded 9.8 Near Mint/Mint by CGC, was auctioned off, marking the highest-graded copy of this poster to ever be sold publicly. The poster, known for its psychedelic art, signature, and historical significance, represents a pinnacle for collectors, investors, and lovers of the era's music and art. HERITAGE AUCTIONS
Collectable, a platform for fractional investing in sports cards and memorabilia, is facing scrutiny as it liquidates numerous fractionalized collectibles, a move that comes weeks after the resignation of CEO Ezra Levine. The company's recent activities, including the halting of trading due to a regulatory filing delay and a lack of communication, have raised concerns about the risks associated with fractional investing in the collectibles industry. ALTAN INSIGHTS
According to a recently released report on family office investments from Goldman Sachs: Approximately 38% of family offices invest in collectibles, with art being the most popular choice (27%), followed by wine and aircraft (14% each), the latter particularly popular among American family offices. These investments are primarily driven by passion (71% of respondents), and 39% also see them as a way to generate returns that are uncorrelated to their main portfolio, especially in the current inflationary environment. GOLDMAN SACHS
AC Momento, previously a marketplace for game-worn soccer jerseys, has pivoted to become a personalized sports app. Users can now collect free digital 'Momentos' of matches they've attended across football (soccer), NBA, and MLB, with NFL and NHL support coming soon; these 'Momentos' come replete with stats, photos, and personalized text, creating a digital scrapbook of sports memories. Reminiscent of the community NFT model, but with a twist–no NFTs; refreshing to say the least. AC MOMENTO
Blockchain startup Freeport has received approval from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to launch its platform for tokenized crowd-ownership of Andy Warhol prints. The approval allows retail investors to gain fractional ownership in the fine arts market, which is traditionally exclusive to high-net-worth individuals. COINTELEGRAPH
Cryptoys, in partnership with Disney, is set to sell digital toys modeled after iconic Star Wars characters as NFTs, marking Disney's further foray into the crypto world. The digital toys, which are backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Mattel, and Dapper Labs, will cost $39.99 each and can be purchased globally using Apple Pay and Google Pay. THE BLOCK
Despite concerns about a potential cooling in the art market, New York auction houses are predicting that their spring sales could generate over $2.2bn. This expectation persists even without the presence of high-estimate artworks, indicating that economic uncertainties and lack of record-breaking bids are not significantly hampering the interest of wealthy art collectors. THE ART NEWSPAPER
Despite controversy surrounding the source of late Austrian billionaire Heidi Horten's wealth, Christie's auction of her jewelry collection exceeded expectations, raking in $156 million. Despite the uproar over her husband's Nazi-era profiteering from Jewish businesses, Christie’s assured that the jewelry collection, assembled between the 1970s and 2022, was well-documented and did not involve spoliation or forced sales from Jewish owners. ARTNET
Spring Auction week started off at Christie’s last night with the 20th Century Evening Sale and The Newhouse Collection. ARTELLIGENCE
The financialization of the art market has led to a secondary market for auction guarantees, where third-party guarantors pledge to buy unsold works and may sell off portions of these guarantees to hedge their risk. Despite market turbulence, this system has bolstered auction metrics and facilitated the sale of high-value art and even sports memorabilia. Check out the third story in this week’s Alts & Ends for a look into this financialization of auction guarantees and how it affects auction house sales of collectibles.
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