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Third Quarter and September Index Recap: V-Shaped Recovery Complete

Third Quarter and September Index Recap: V-Shaped Recovery Complete
October 4, 2021
Dylan Dittrich

Altan Insights 100 as of 9/30/21: 1,146.80

September Performance: +9.5%

Third Quarter Performance: +41.4%

YTD Performance: +14.7%

S&P 500 Third Quarter Performance: +0.6%

S&P 500 YTD Performance: +15.9%

Bitcoin Third Quarter Performance: +25.6%

Bitcoin YTD Performance: +49.9%

What a difference a quarter makes! The end of the second quarter, June 30th, was the actual trough for the Altan Insights 100. If you read that quarterly update, you know those were dark times indeed. But the night is always darkest before the dawn, at least that’s what Harvey Dent tells us. And if Gotham’s DA was referring to the performance of fractionally traded alternative assets, well damnit, he was spot on.

As the second quarter was nearing its end, the wheels of a fractional renaissance were already in motion. June saw the beginning of the comic book buyout frenzy that lasted throughout July and played a major role in the improving investor optimism that stabilized markets over the summer. In August, comic books passed the baton to video games, as Rally closed the $2 million sale of Super Mario Bros and the resulting exuberance from that outcome, as well as strong auction results in the month prior, lifted sealed games across the board. Finally, September belonged to sports memorabilia; while sports cards have enjoyed several strong moments over the past year, memorabilia (somewhat inexplicably) trailed every step of the way….until recently.

While each of these categories had standout months, performance was strong across the spectrum of assets for the quarter .September, however, was tamer and was in fact the weakest month of the three. 26 assets in the index were up during the month, versus 27 assets that declined in value. Sounds discouraging at face value, but the magnitude of moves tells a vastly better story. The average negative return was -11%, while assets that gained were up 25% on average. The average starting market cap of assets that gained during September was $60k higher than it was for assets that lost value, indicating that larger assets generally performed better than the smaller ones in the index. Given that the index is cap-weighted, such a trend bodes particularly well for performance.

When we examine the results in terms of percentage return, we immediately see the favorable tailwinds for sports memorabilia. Wilt Chamberlain’s high-school uniform led the charge in September, up 96%, and his rookie uniform wasn’t far behind, gaining 72%. Tiger Woods’s tournament used putter was the second strongest performer this month. After one of his backup Scotty Cameron putters brought in $393k with Golden Age Auctions at the end of August, shareholders flocked to the incredible rarity of a putter that was actually used in competition. Remarkably, that putter was also the second strongest performer in August, was among the strongest in July, and was among the worst performing in June. Never a dull moment with Tiger. Ali’s Title Belt gained 66%, in another sign of improving fortunes for the memorabilia of all-time greats. Finally, in a quieter month for cards, the ‘52 Topps Willie Mays card gained 65%.

The Cristiano Ronaldo rookie on Otis was the worst September performer, as auction comps weighed on performance that had been astronomically positive to date. Two LeBron cards also found themselves among the worst performers, though the broader market for his cards appears to be finding its footing. Finally, the video game strength did not resonate for the NWC Cartridge this month.

In dollar terms, we find many of the same assets among the best and worst performers. The 50%+ gains for Honus were not enough to rank it among the best in percentage terms, but $549.5k in increased value does the trick here. Meanwhile, after doubling in value in August, the Sandy Koufax jersey surrendered $85k in September.

If we zoom out to look at the entirety of the third quarter, we see the insane magnitude of the Tiger Putter’s rise (even more on this still to come); those who bought the dip back in June are quite happy to have nearly 6X’d their money. In a quarter. Sleep on golf at your own peril. We also see the strength of the quarter for video games evidenced here, as the bought-out Rally Super Mario checks in as the fifth best performing asset, and the still trading Otis Super Mario is third. Impressively, both of those games were top performers in the second quarter as well, which further reinforces just how much the sector has climbed. On the flip side…woof…not a great quarter for Mahomes cards, as shareholders perhaps reconsider the level of career success that may already be priced in; the level of play to start the season has not yet been sufficient to reverse the skid. Impressively, the five worst index performers were only down between 15-20%, which highlights the broad strength of markets this quarter. The NWC Cartridge finds itself bottom despite only being in the index for one month of 3Q.

In dollar terms, we again find many of the same suspects, with a few additions of particularly large assets. The bought-out 1953 Topps Mantle was up only 33%, but given the remarkably large market cap (it was the most valuable asset trading fractionally), that equates to a $715k increase in value.  Police Car by Banksy was down just 15%, but that makes it the largest loser in market value. Again, you can see the strong positive skew: the fifth largest gainer was more than double the magnitude of the five largest losers combined.

We completed our monthly reconstitution of the index, and there are just six new entrants, which is the lowest turnover to date. Two assets, Batman #3 and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, both on Rally, performed their way into the index, gaining 67% and 54% respectively. The Punch-Out!! on Otis also joins the index, having recently begun trading, as does CryptoPunk #543, the first NFT in the Altan Insights 100. In terms of the six assets removed from the index, three truly performed their way out of contention. The Cristiano Ronaldo rookie on Otis fell 33% as previously covered, while the Jordan/LeBron Sign of the Times card fell 30%. The Nike Moonshoe also fell 13% to find itself on the outside looking in. Others dropping out included the Himalaya Birkin, the National Treasures Mahomes RPA, and the National Treasures Giannis RPA.

The top ten constituents look fairly similar at the top half to last month with minor movements, while the bottom half is shaken up considerably. The Wilt Rookie Uniform retains its top spot, while Honus jumps from #3 to #2 and the Wilt High-School Uniform jumps from #4 to #3. The ’52 Topps Mantle falls from #2 to #4, and the Topps Gretzky slides one spot to #5.

The Tiger Putter now finds itself the #6 asset trading fractionally. It’s path to this point is astounding, reaching a rank as low as78th in June, before rebounding to 52nd, then 17th, and now 6th. Again, shareholders would be forgiven for unleashing a fist pump that would make Tiger himself blush. The No Rev-A Punch-Out!! on Otis joins the index at #7, while the Kobe floor falls from 6th to 8thand the Lamborghini from 7th to 9th. Finally, that handsome fella CryptoPunk #543 debuts at #10 as the first NFT in the index. Few would be surprised to see some of his friends on this list before too long.

Dropping out of the top ten were the ’86 Fleer Basketball Set on Otis, the Koufax Jersey on Collectable, and the Magic/Bird Dual Logoman on Collectable. They now check in at 12th, 23rd, and 19th respectively.

There are also notable shifts in sector composition from August to September to report. Cars continue their decline, falling from 19% to 16% of the index. There has not been a month yet where the car allocation increased or remained the same; they started the year comprising 47% of the index. Sports cards also tumbled considerably, from 44% to 40%. The big gainer? Once again, it’s sports memorabilia, now up to 27% of the index, versus 22% a month earlier and just 12% at the end of the second quarter. Other notables include video games, up to 5% from 2%, and NFTs (or really just that lone CryptoPunk), now 2% of the index.


What was an incredibly bleak situation at the end of June, with the Altan Insights 100 down 18.8%, has completely reversed over the course of three months. While indiscriminate selling was the theme in Q2, several catalysts have combined to send fractional markets higher in Q3, including but not limited to: comic book buyouts, video game emergence, stabilization and strengthening of the sports card market, and a remarkably strong game of catch-up from sports memorabilia. Numerous though the catalysts may have been, there has been some evidence that the indiscriminate selling has given way to some indiscriminate buying, as the valuations of certain assets separate from their comps with strong gusts of potentially irrational exuberance at their back. Will it be choppier times ahead to close 2021? Or will the march higher continue? If the first three quarters have taught us anything, we should be prepared for an eventful ride.

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