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Headlines and Highlights: Week of March 1st
March 1, 2024

Headlines and Highlights: Week of March 1st

By 
Keenan Flack
Altan Insights covers the most significant happenings of the week in the collectibles universe.
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Peachtree Provenance: Beyond the Prices Paid for Elton John's Collection

Peachtree Provenance: Beyond the Prices Paid for Elton John's Collection

This is the latest edition of a multi-part blog series produced in partnership with The Realest on the key events and factors shaping the music memorabilia market. The Realest is the first dedicated authentication standard and marketplace for entertainment memorabilia.

In a fusion of fashion, art, music, and memorabilia, the seminal sale of Sir Elton John’s treasure trove of iconic collectibles paid homage to the unique personality displayed by one of music’s most impactful figures. 

The event, aptly titled “Goodbye Peachtree Road”, seamlessly interlaced culture and luxury, while a predictable mix of outperformance and record prices also hinted at a glaring weakness in the auction world’s ability or willingness to provide reasonable estimates for music memorabilia. Just as Sotheby’s declined to “value love” in its assessment of items from Freddie Mercury’s estate, it seems Christie’s avoided the inclusion of an “Elton John premium” in its projections.

On the opening night, art - in the form of prints, sculptures, and photographs - took center stage, as total sales across the categories reached $6.5 million. Among the evening’s standout moments was a trio of pieces that made their triumphant return to the auction block after decades in private ownership. Each of the three repeat sales tallied a premium over their last appearance at auction as photography remains a lucrative collectible category worthy of attention.

 In 1991, Sotheby’s sold an original print of Dovima with Elephants, a photograph taken by Richard Avedon for a 1955 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. The famous shot sold for $19,800 and resurfaced nearly a quarter-century later as part of Elton’s collection. This time, the work hammered for $120,000, up to $151,200 with premium, to demonstrate an overall valuation gain of 663% or a modest 6.4% increase on an annualized basis. Additionally, a photo titled Grapes by Robert Mapplethorpe sold for $81,900 after Elton acquired it from Sotheby’s for $36,800 in 1996, while Four Plants by Gilbert & George flipped for $189,000, up only narrowly from $186,000 in 2005. 

The most expensive item sold came by way of an iconic and recognizable Banksy. The poignant painting, Flower Thrower Triptych, sold for $1.9 million, good for the fifth most-expensive Banksy sold at auction over the past year. The sale established a record for any Banksy work related to throwing flowers, besting the previous high of $458,221 for Flower Chucker, 2023, which sold last March. Across more than 300 lots in the day and evening sale, the Banksy was the only to carry a seven-figure estimate and ultimately closed as the only item to hammer for at least $1 million.  

Although collectors of works by Keith Haring might long for the late 2010s, when art by the late American pop artist reached their valuation peaks, the pair of Harings owned by Elton John demonstrated the impact of provenance. Both paintings surpassed their pre-sale estimates, while the top sale, which was an untitled work from Haring’s Three Eyes collection, sold for $756,000 and surpassed any comparable work from the early 1980s series. 

As the premier sales closed, the remaining results carried less significance but still delivered new highs for more obscure artists. One new record that was established came by way of Pinnin Leaves by Radcliffe Bailey. The unique work is one of the first sold since Bailey’s passing in November of last year, and its inclusion within Elton John’s collection signifies the impact an artist can have despite a lack of prominent prices. Prior to the sale, Bailey’s auction record sat at $62,812, set via Bonham’s in 2021. With an estimate between $10,000 and $15,000, Pinnin Leaves sold for $94,500, representing an 18% increase over the previous high. Another artist, Derek Jarman, had his auction record nearly doubled as Topsey Turvey sold for $52,920 against an estimate of $8,000 - $12,000. The prior top price paid at auction for a Jarman was $26,739, paid for an oil on canvas at Christie's in 2001. 

If the prices realized for Elton’s art weren’t evidence enough, the power of provenance was on full display for his luxury watch collection.

Five different watches sold for six-figures, while two, both by Cartier, reached $200K. The star of the evening sale was an 18K gold Cartier “Crash” which nearly tripled its high-end estimate of $100,000 and realized $277,200 after fees. Even setting aside the added provenance, the watch itself is rare with a total quantity of 400 in existence. The limited edition timepiece opened with an estimate between $70,000 - $100,000, a head-scratching range as comparable examples have consistently sold for at least $100,000 and have even surpassed $300,000 in recent years. The final bid plus premium totaled $277,200, below the all-time record for any 1991 Paris “Crash” but noticeably above the median sale 2022-2023 price range of $150,000 - $220,000. 

Cartier "Crash"

As the clear favorite timepiece of the piano-playing icon, Cartier outpaced all other watch brands with $853,020 in sales. The day sale was led by a Cartier Tank that hammered for more than 7x its pre-sale estimate. Christie’s offered an estimate range between $15,000 - $25,000, a fair premium to the average Cartier Tank but strikingly conservative for the unique ruby and diamond laden watch owned by an icon. 

Two watch auction records were established during the evening sale, one by way of a Cartier Normale which sold for $176,400, and the other, for a leopard-print Rolex Daytona. In a continuation of the overarching theme, the $40,000 to $60,000 estimate for the Rolex appeared light. Yes, there have been sales for the unique animal-themed model that settled below $60,000, but those have been few and far between. The retail price across authorized dealers who managed to secure one or two of the rare Daytona’s hovered in the $70,000 - $80,000 range at the time of release. The recent decline in Rolex valuations hasn’t ignored this model, as market values fell below $70,000 in late 2023. With that said, you would be hard-pressed to find an authentic example today for less than $65,000 and the timepiece presented by Christie's came with more than just the standard papers. With the added benefit of royal provenance due to its place within Sir Elton John’s collection, bidders ignored concerns of a faltering Rolex market. When the hammer fell and premium had been added, the realized price read $176,400, setting a new record for this 21st century classic. 

It should go without saying, but could you really have an Elton John auction and not sell a piano? Admittedly, the supply of musical instruments was scarce, but the one Piano that did hit the block on the opening night struck a chord with collectors. 

The 1992 C6 model Yamaha grand piano entered with an estimated price between $30,000 and $50,000. Yes, that valuation is actually in line with the replacement value of comparable C6 Yamaha’s without superstar provenance, but for one owned by a musician who is to the piano what Michael Jordan is to a basketball, the estimate was grossly understated. That understatement was underscored by a response from bidders that can’t be overstated. The piano auctioned for $201,600 with fees to close as the most expensive music-related item sold throughout the multi-day event. 

Additional stage-worn and stage-used costumes and props included a pair of silver leather platform boots that carried an eyebrow-raising and inviting $5,000 to $10,000 estimate but sold for a reasonable $94,500. Various other costumes and apparel items combined for $212,310 in volume across the Evening and Day sales. 

Who needs a writer to pen auction lot descriptions when you have an essay from Elton John himself?

1990 Bentley Continental

That was the case for the 1990 Bentley Continental, purchased by Elton shortly after the British-born classic rolled off the assembly line. The two door convertible, appearing at auction for the first time, was given an estimate between $25,000 and $35,000, which fell well short of the market value provided by collectible car experts. With the added bonus of carrying less than 30,000 miles of wear, the market value for a ‘90 Bentley Continental per the insurance company Hagerty is somewhere in the $50,000 - $70,000 range, double the auction estimate.

While Christie's abstinence from accounting for “the Elton premium” was consistent, even the Hagerty market value was miles away from what bidders were ultimately willing to pay. The auction house reported a flurry of two-dozen bidders, and the heated action drove the price to a new record of $441,000. The hammer plus premium exceeded the pre-sale estimate by more than 12x and surpassed the price paid for any 1990s Bentley at auction by almost double. The prior high watermark was for a 1994 Continental IV, which sold in 2022 for $296,500, an impressive tally, but well below the price paid for one that came alongside a short essay, penned by the superstar owner himself. In the letter, Elton emphasized his astonishment with the beauty and detailing of the car, in addition to its unmistakable smell. 

In an active collectibles market where there’s constantly something new and shiny to catch our attention, the power of provenance remains as influential and important as ever. 

The Numbers Behind the Elton John Collection

Top 3 Sales

  1. Flower Thrower Triptych by Banksy  - $1,925,000
  2. Untitled (Three Eyes) by Keith Haring  - $756,000
  3. Untitled  by Keith Haring  - $529,000

Total Sales by Event

  • Opening Night - $7,960,900
  • The Day Sale - $6.474,132
  • The Jewel Box - $1,735,902
  • Honky Château - $1,336,986
  • Love, Lust, and Devotion - $1,123,416 
  • Elton’s Superstars - $587,916
  • Elton’s Versace - $574,938

Photo Credit: Christie's.

Cover Photo: LA Times

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Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

Headlines and Highlights: Week of February 23rd
Market Commentary

Headlines and Highlights: Week of February 23rd

Elton John’s ‘Opening Night’ Christie’s Sale Grosses $8 Million

Christie's

Elton John's collection from his Atlanta home sparked a bidding frenzy at Christie’s, grossing $8 million in sales. Highlights included a collector’s edition pinball machine, a 1990 Bentley Continental, platform boots, and cocktail shakers, with many items exceeding their estimated values. The auction drew 40% new bidders to Christie’s, although a Damien Hirst collage intended for John was withdrawn from the sale.

The standout sale was a Banksy painting, "Flower Thrower Triptych, 2017", which fetched $1.925 million, leading the first of two live and six online auctions totaling nearly 900 items. Early bids set the tone with prescription sunglasses and Elizabeth II silver cocktail shakers selling well above estimates, alongside glittery watches and jewelry from Rolex and Cartier attracting significant interest and high bids.

The auction featured a diverse range of art, photography from notable artists, and John’s Yamaha conservatory grand piano ($201,600 after fees), culminating in the sale of his Bentley ($441,000 after fees) and pinball machine ($69,300 after fees). More of Elton John’s memorabilia, including costumes, watches, fine arts, and jewelry, is set to be auctioned, with a particular focus on his friendship with Versace and a collection titled “Honky Château” showcasing his unique aesthetic. BARRONS 

Panini and LIV Golf Sign Multi-Year Trading Card Deal

Panini

Panini has inked an exclusive multi-year trading card deal with LIV Golf, marking its debut into the golf card market. This partnership allows Panini to create and distribute trading cards featuring LIV Golf players, including match-worn memorabilia and autographs. Panini plans to incorporate these elements into its Prizm and Impeccable brands and will also introduce a real-time card program, Panini Instant, to capture key moments from tournaments and create LIV Golf Team sets.

The LIV Golf series, backed by Saudi Arabian interests since its 2022 inception, features 54 players and introduces a team element to its tournaments, with a majority of its 14 tour stops located outside the U.S. Panini has already started selling the 2024 LIV team sets on its website, emphasizing the unique team and league format introduced by LIV Golf that offers a new level of collectability and appeal for fans and collectors alike.

LIV Golf Commissioner and CEO Greg Norman expressed excitement about partnering with Panini to bring innovative products to passionate fans and collectors. Mark Warsop, CEO of Panini America, highlighted the alignment of LIV Golf’s innovative approach and Panini's brand, aiming to build a lasting fan base. This partnership is set to introduce golf's top talents, like Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, and Phil Mickelson, to the trading card market, offering a fresh collectible avenue for golf enthusiasts. SCDAILY

Collectible Happenings

A wristwatch frozen at the moment the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945 is expected to sell for up to $20,000, brought back into the limelight by the success of the film "Oppenheimer”. DAILYMAIL

Rally has put up two assets, a 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth (current price of $201k( and a 1999 Pokemon 1st edition PSA 10 full set (current price $250k), up to a vote as to whether it will be put up for auction. RALLY

Christie’s announces NFT sale from artist Robert Alice. 400 lots of NFT art will be sold, including the very first NFT Christie's sold in 2020. CHRISTIES

Excessively rare Bank of the United States check, 6.25 x 3, filled out in the hand of Treasury Secretary Oliver Wolcott Jr. and boldly signed by President George Washington, "Go: Washington," payable to "Oliv. Wolcott" for $2693.33, September 1795. Affixed by its top edge to a thin board and in fine condition, with a block of toning over the check area, and a tear to the lower blank margin, not affecting the check itself; Washington's signature is crisp and bold. Accompanied by a full letter of authenticity and grading from PSA/DNA, evaluating both autographs as MINT 10 examples.

A check signed by President George Washington was sold at RR Auction for $135,473 after fees. The check was made out to Washington in September of 1795, there are only two such signed checks known from his time as President. RRAUCTION

Adrian Peterson, a former NFL MVP and three-time rushing champion, is entangled in a legal battle over property seizures due to an unpaid $8.3 million loan judgment from 2021, despite earning over $100 million during his career. His personal items, including trophies from 2012 MVP and 2007 Rookie of the Year, were advertised for auction in Texas, which Peterson claims he did not authorize and intends to take legal action against. The court-appointed receiver has accused Peterson and his wife of attempting to illegally conceal assets, leading to a complex legal struggle over the collection of the debt, now exceeding $10 million with interest and fees. USATODAY Adrian Peterson Statement

Topps is extending its debut patch card program to Major League Soccer, where 2024 season rookies will have patches from their debut jerseys incorporated into unique 1/1 Topps MLS rookie cards. The program, which includes player autographs, ensures that newcomers debuting by April 1 will feature in the 2024 Topps MLS product, following the successful implementation of a similar initiative in Major League Baseball. SCDAILY

A painting by Brice Marden titled "Event," produced between 2004 and 2007, is expected to fetch between $30 million and $50 million at a Christie's auction in May, potentially setting a new auction record for the artist. The work, which has never been publicly exhibited since leaving Marden's studio in 2007, will be shown for the first time at Art Dubai before the sale, challenging Marden's current auction record of $30.9 million. ARTNEWS

Feel free to reach out to Keenan@Altaninsights.com for any questions/comments.

Enjoyed this article? Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

Headlines and Highlights: Week of February 16th
Market Commentary

Headlines and Highlights: Week of February 16th

Financial Learning Platform Stockpile Acquires Investables

Stockpile

Stockpile, a financial learning platform aimed at young investors and their parents, has recently expanded its offerings by acquiring the talent, technology, and intellectual property of Investables, an alternative investing platform focused on high-end collectibles. The move is seen as a step towards broadening the investment options available to Stockpile’s audience, catering to the growing interest in tangible investments like collectibles among younger investors.

The acquisition brings several of Investables' key executives to Stockpile, indicating a potential enhancement of the platform's capabilities in alternative investment offerings. This strategic decision aligns with Stockpile's mission to make investing more accessible and engaging for children and families by including familiar and tangible assets such as sneakers, comic books, and autographed sports memorabilia in their investment portfolio.

In addition to the acquisition, Stockpile has announced the initial funding of the Stockpile Foundation, aimed at promoting financial independence in underserved communities, and the expansion of its executive team with seasoned professionals in fintech. These developments underscore Stockpile's commitment to its mission of revolutionizing financial education for the next generation, further bolstering its offerings and capabilities to provide a comprehensive and inclusive investing platform for young investors and their families. BUSINESSWIRE

Art Insurer Cautions Museums Against the Threat of Selfies

Art museums are increasingly facing an increasingly prominent challenge: damage caused by visitors taking selfies. According to a report by specialist insurer Hiscox, there's a growing trend of individuals accidentally harming artworks as they back into them while trying to take selfies. This phenomenon, termed “a pandemic of selfies” by Hiscox's head of art and private clients, Robert Read, has led to significant financial losses and damage to irreplaceable pieces, highlighting the risks associated with modern visitor behavior in art spaces.

The insurer notes that half of its art underwriting business is now attributed to accidental damage, with a substantial portion caused by selfie-taking visitors. This situation forces art curators to navigate the delicate balance between embracing modern technology and preserving artworks for future generations. Incidents like the ‘Selfie Domino’ at the 14th Factory in Los Angeles, where a selfie-taker knocked over several pieces of an installation causing $200,000 in damages, underscore severe financial implications of such accidents.

In response to these risks, many art venues worldwide, including Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art and the British Museum, have banned selfie sticks to mitigate potential damage. Additionally, concerns over activist vandalism have prompted discussions on implementing more stringent security measures, akin to airport-style screenings. This heightened security is aimed not only at protecting the artworks from accidental damage by visitors but also safeguarding against deliberate acts of vandalism, as illustrated by the attack on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London. ARTNET

Collectible Happenings

INDYCAR has announced a new three-year trading card deal with Parkside Cards, set to launch March 2024, offering fans the opportunity to purchase cards at races, retail stores, and online, along with special race weekend promotions like contests and giveaways. The collection will feature a base set of 162 cards, including autographed cards, relic cards with pieces from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and various insert sets, available in hobby boxes and retail hanger packs. SCDAILY

An episode of PBS' Antiques Roadshow featured a woman from New England discovering her father's collection of 1948-49 Leaf baseball cards, neatly preserved in an old cigar box. The collection, highlighted by expert Simeon Lipman, is being sold at Weiss Auctions. SCDAILY

Francis Bacon's 1963 painting ‘Landscape near Malabata, Tangier’, a tribute to his late partner Peter Lacy, is set to lead Christie's 20th/21st Century Evening Sale in London with an estimate of $18.8 million to $25 million, marking its first market appearance in nearly 40 years. The painting, inspired by Vincent Van Gogh and filled with emotional intensity, reflects the love, loss, and passion of Bacon's relationship with Lacy, amidst a backdrop of personal turmoil and artistic acclaim.  ARTNET

Upper Deck inked an exclusive multi-year deal with junior hockey star Michael Misa, a top prospect for the 2025 NHL Draft, featuring a collection of his trading cards and autographed memorabilia. Misa, celebrated for his exceptional skills and awarded "Exceptional Status" in the Ontario Hockey League, joins the ranks of hockey talents like Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid in partnering with Upper Deck for fan memorabilia. SCDAILY

Heritage has consigned two of the oldest Knicks uniforms that have ever come up for auction at the house. A ball boy with the team in the 1940s/50s is apparently the consignor. TWITTER

An AFA 85 graded ‘G.I. Joe Aircraft Carrier U.S. Flagg Playset’ was consigned to LCG Auctions. This is allegedly the highest graded copy of the toy to come to market. TWITTER

Mantel, a collectibles-focused social networking site has launched. The company debuted a more bare-bones version of their product a few months ago, but new features including badges and ‘Mantel Points’ have been added in this rollout. MANTEL

Heritage is auctioning the infamous door from Titanic, yes the one that apparently did not have enough room for Leo, in their march Planet Hollywood Signature Auction. Current bid sits at $40,000, we will have to see where the price lands after another 35 days of bidding. HERITAGE

Rally Road has sent their 1980 Rickey Henderson Rookie PSA 10 card to auction at ALT. A like-graded copy of the card most recently sold at Memory Lane auctions for $135,483. ALT

Feel free to reach out to Keenan@Altaninsights.com for any questions/comments.

Enjoyed this article? Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

Headlines and Highlights: Week of February 9th
Market Commentary

Headlines and Highlights: Week of February 9th

UFC and Fanatics Strike Exclusive Multi-Year Trading Card Partnership

UFC

The UFC has entered into an exclusive multi-year trading card agreement with Fanatics Collectibles, marking the return of Topps to the sport since their previous partnership from 2009-2020. The first product to be launched under this new agreement will be 2024 Topps Chrome UFC, set to be released on February 28. This upcoming set will feature 200 base cards, a variety of color and tech parallels, key insert cards, and two autographs per box from popular UFC names like Sean O’Malley, Alexa Grasso, and Leon Edwards.

Senior Vice President of UFC Global Consumer Products, Tracey Bleczinski, highlighted the unique personalities and historic moments of UFC that fans can celebrate through these trading cards. Fanatics Collectibles CEO, Mike Mahan, also celebrated the partnership, noting the popularity of UFC trading cards among collectors and promising innovative cards featuring new stars. Fanatics plans to bolster this partnership with promotional efforts, including special interviews and live card breaks with UFC athletes on Fanatics Live, further enhancing the existing e-commerce and live-event partnership between UFC and Fanatics Commerce. UFC

Cordillera Investment Partners Raises $62 Million for Whisky Investment Fund

Cordillera

Cordillera Investment Partners has successfully raised $62 million for its Whiskey Opportunities Fund, marking the firm's entry into the niche market of buying and aging whiskey barrels as institutional assets. Cordillera aims to capitalize on the underexplored whiskey aging market, offering investors a unique opportunity to diversify their portfolios with non-correlated assets that have potentially compelling potential returns. The "Bourbon Boom" has seen revenues in Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey grow significantly, highlighting the increasing demand for premium whiskey products.

The Whiskey Opportunities Fund is set to invest in a diverse portfolio of whiskey assets both in the U.S. and internationally, leveraging the steep aging curve in the whiskey industry where aged products fetch significantly higher market prices than new-fill bottles. With the super premium category of whiskey experiencing notable volume growth, Cordillera sees a great opportunity in addressing the capital constraints faced by craft brands and distillers. BUSINESSWIRE

Collectible Happenings

Rally’s first edition copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ received a buyout offer of $132,500 which was accepted by 69.8% of shares. Resulting in a net cash return since last trade of +26.00% and a net cash return since IPO of +68.00%. RALLY

CGC initiated legal action against two defendants that have been accused of re-holdering slabs used on highly valued comic books for ones of significantly lesser quality. Following that, CGC also accuses them of selling these fraudulent slabbed books via several eBay accounts. Get the full story from Hobby lawyer extraordinaire, Paul Lesko’s Twitter(X) thread.

Fanatics/Topps is introducing autographed memorabilia redemption cards in blaster boxes for 2024 Topps Series 1 Baseball, exclusively available on Fanatics’ website ahead of the official release. These $29.99 boxes, which contain nine packs of cards each, offer collectors the chance to find redemption cards that can be exchanged for signed baseball memorabilia from athletes under contract with Fanatics, including items like an autographed Adley Rutschman baseball. SCDAILY

Five companies specializing in sports cards are among the top 21 eBay sellers globally as of early 2024, indicating a continued market interest in sports collectibles on the platform. COMC, DCSportscards, Burbank Sportscards, Greg Morris Cards, and Probstein123 received anywhere between 18,000 and 50,000 feedback ratings in the last 30 days, with COMC achieving the fifth highest selling volume of eBay sellers globally. SCDAILY

Jimi Hendrix’ famous headband, photo-matched to seven performances across 1969-70, is up for sale at Heritage. Current bid sits at $14,500—imputing a realized price of $17,400 if bidding goes no further. HERITAGE

Ronald Perelman is embroiled in a legal battle with a group of insurers over a $410 million claim for damages allegedly sustained by five blue-chip artworks in a 2018 fire at his Hamptons estate. The insurers contest Perelman's claim, alleging the artworks were undamaged and valued at only $103 million, while Perelman insists on the authenticity of his claim, accusing the insurers of bad faith and highlighting their selective use of his statements to avoid payment. ARTNET

A 1884 painting by Vincent van Gogh, stolen from a Netherlands museum in a late-night theft three years ago, will be displayed in March after being anonymously returned with a significant scratch. Art detective Arthur Brand recovered the artwork after receiving it in a crumpled IKEA bag; it is assumed that no one in the criminal underworld willing to sell it due to its high profile and associated risks. ARTNEWS

John Lennon's personal copy of The Beatles' "White Album," identifiable by its serial number 0000006, is up for sale at Heritage with a current bid of $50,000 ($62,500 after fees). This rare stereo pressing, once gifted to his chauffeur and bodyguard, comes complete with original inserts and shows some signs of wear. HERITAGE

PSA will introduce a new blue label for collectibles where only the autograph has been authenticated, differentiating them from items with the red label which indicates full authentication and grading of the item itself. This change aims to clarify for customers exactly what they are purchasing and maintain trust in PSA's services. TWITTER 

Feel free to reach out to Keenan@Altaninsights.com for any questions/comments.

Enjoyed this article? Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive more like it in your inbox weekly!

Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

Headlines and Highlights: Week of February 2nd
Market Commentary

Headlines and Highlights: Week of February 2nd

Big Week of Sotheby’s News

Sotheby's

Sotheby's announced its 2023 sales totaled an impressive $7.9 billion, nearly matching its record figure from the previous year despite a slower art market pace. This achievement was bolstered by a robust luxury auction sector and an increase in private sales, with notable sales including Pablo Picasso’s "Femme à la montre" fetching $139.4 million and Gustav Klimt's "Dame mit Fächer (Lady with a Fan)" selling for $108.5 million. The auction house also highlighted its success in single-owner auctions, contributing significantly to its annual sales. Looking forward, Sotheby's is set to expand its physical presence with new spaces in Hong Kong and Paris, and a move to the iconic Breuer building in Manhattan. ARTNET

In addition to its sales achievements, Sotheby's has undertaken a significant overhaul of its auction fee structure. Here is a breakdown of the changes that will take effect on May 20th:

  • Reduction of Buyer's Fees: Sotheby's has reduced the fees for buyers by 26% on most lots. The new model stipulates that buyers will pay 20% of the hammer price up to and including $6 million, and 10% for the portion of the price above US$6 million. This is a departure from the previous tiered fee structure where buyers paid a composite fee based on several value thresholds within the hammer price.
  • Simplification of Seller's Fees: Seller's fees have been made fixed and unambiguous for most lots, moving away from the previous system of bespoke, negotiated fees. The new structure includes a commission of 10% of the hammer price to sellers for consignments valued at a low estimate of $5 million or less, subject to a minimum of $500 a lot and a maximum of $50,000. For consignments between $5 and $20 million, the commission is waived. If valued at $20 up to $50 million, the commission is waived, and 40% of the buyer’s premium is paid to the seller. For works valued at more than $50 million, the commission is to be determined.
  • Elimination of Overhead Premium: The 1% administrative fee on all sales, known as an "overhead premium," has been removed.
  • Introduction of Performance Fee: For any lot that sells above a high estimate, Sotheby’s receives a 2% performance fee from the seller. Additionally, if an artwork is guaranteed by the auction house or a third party, Sotheby’s will charge the seller a fixed guarantee commitment fee of 4% of the guarantee amount. BARRONS

In non-corporate communications news, it was announced this week that a New York federal jury cleared the house of all allegations made by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rbolovlev. He accused Sotheby’s of defrauding him in art sales worth tens of millions of dollars. Sotheby’s argued that it properly adhered to all legal and industry standards when dealing with the billionaire, and were not aware of Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier’s backroom dealings. ARTSY

Rounding out a week of news from the house, Michael Jordan’s six championship game-worn shoes, known as ‘The Dynasty Collection’, just sold for  $8,032,800 closing out a big week of news for the house. SOTHEBYS

Collectible Happenings

Rally road shareholders vote to sell their fractionally-owned ’79 Topps Wayne Gretzky rookie card for $920,000. Netting a +10.55% return since IPO and a +16.22% return from the last trade. RALLY

Heritage’s Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction includes a set of 16 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Wax cases. Current bid is set at $1,575,000, imputing a value of just under $100,000 per box. Check out this video from Heritage explaining the unique backstory of this lot.   HERITAGE

Speaking of video, here is another one. “The Hobby” is a documentary set to release on February 16th. TWITTER

Two footballs thrown by Tom Brady during Super Bowl XLIX for touchdown passes are being auctioned by Gotta Have Rock and Roll, with the two estimated by the house at $1 to $1.5 million; although, Altan’s very own Bradley Calleja thinks otherwise. These pieces from the Patriots' victory over the Seahawks highlight Brady's record-setting performances and are accompanied by authentication, including a letter from Danny Amendola for one of the balls. GHRR 

MeiGray has launched its own NBA game-worn jersey auctions, starting with Los Angeles Lakers Classic Edition jerseys from the 2022-23 season, despite the NBA's partnership with Sotheby’s for NBA Auctions. The auctions will feature game-worn and game-issued jerseys, including those from LeBron James and Anthony Davis, with future events to include Golden State Warriors jerseys and selections from MeiGray's individual team deals. SCDAILY      MEIGRAY

A ‘1983 Gibson Les Paul Standard ‘59 Reissue’ sold for £592,200, outstripping the low estimate by 59x. The instrument was sold as part of Mark Knopfler’s collection at Christie’s. CHRISTIES

Feel free to reach out to Keenan@Altaninsights.com for any questions/comments.

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Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

A Clumsy Opening Tip-Off: Breaking Down A New Era at NBA Auctions
Alts & Ends

A Clumsy Opening Tip-Off: Breaking Down A New Era at NBA Auctions

Photo: Sotheby's

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The spotlight invites scrutiny.

The NBA and Sotheby's announced their new game-worn partnership to great acclaim in November. Finally, the parade of jerseys was emerging from the obscurity of the NBA Auctions site to the well-lit halls of one of the world's most renowned auction houses. The secret - seemingly known only to existing basketball memorabilia collectors - would soon be out, and throngs of new bidders would vie for the game-worn garb of the sport's brightest stars.

The partnership tipped off with a dream start from a dream asset: Victor Wembanyama's debut-worn Spurs jersey. Against an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000, the jersey sold for a brow-raising sum of $762,000. If the result was a harbinger of things to come, then this partnership would indeed elevate game-worn hoops collecting to a new level. The Wemby jersey captured headlines - rightfully so - but behind the curtain cast by a jersey made for a man standing 7'4, results were lukewarm, at least relative to the expectations cast by Sotheby's.

In that first event, 42 of 64 lots hammered for prices below their low estimates. Fifteen lots hammered within their ranges, while only seven exceeded them. Absent the top-billed Wembanyama lot, the aggregate hammer price of just under $384k came up shy of the aggregate low estimate of $428,000. Perhaps then, the $762,000 price for the debut jersey was not a reflection of the partnership's strength but instead simply the sports memorabilia market doing what it does at the moment: paying top dollar for premier assets.

Auctioning a high volume of sports memorabilia lots at a regular cadence is not something Sotheby's has a long and documented history of doing. In recent years, they've demonstrated an immense ability to achieve museum-quality prices for museum-quality pieces. Single-lot auction events have repeatedly delivered seven-figure sale prices for Jordan, Kobe, LeBron, Wilt, Maradona, and Messi. Irrevocable bids or not, that's no small feat. But if you've watched Part II of those auctions, featuring dozens of lots of a lesser caliber, you've noticed many results fail to stack up against estimates.

This frequent-cadence, higher-volume game is new to the house in sports. It seems that adjustment will take time and a recognition that each individual jersey will have a harder time standing out in a quickly growing sea of them. What seems like an extraordinary jersey due to a statistical accomplishment or an occasion (Christmas, In-Season Tournament, etc) often proves ordinary when competing for bids with 30 other jerseys today and who knows how many more tomorrow. That was a reminder frequently issued during last week's International Player Edit event.

The event saw 22 of 35 lots hammer below their estimate ranges, with just three finishing above. Some of the jerseys with the highest expectations came up shortest:

  • A jersey from Luka Doncic's 10,000-point game, played on Christmas Day, was estimated to sell for between $80,000 and $120,000. It hammered for $40,000 and sold for $50,800. Unfortunately, Luka passed 10,000 points in the first half, and this was a second-half jersey. His 50-point performance was not enough to propel bidding to the expected levels.
  • A jersey worn by Giannis Antetokounmpo when he achieved his third-highest point tally was estimated to sell for between $30,000 and $50,000. It hammered for $7,000 and sold for $8,890. Unless collectors vividly remember that third-highest point tally for good reason, they don't care much about a third-highest point tally, and that rings true of a first-half jersey from a November loss to the Pacers.
  • A jersey worn on Christmas Day by Nikola Jokic was estimated to sell for between $25,000 and $35,000. It hammered for $10,000, selling for $12,700. Christmas Day provenance apparently delivers a lump of coal instead of high prices.

Lots with a low estimate of $10,000 or higher achieved a hammer ratio (hammer price divided by low estimate) of just 0.81 in the event. Lots with a low estimate under $10,000 performed far better versus estimates, achieving a hammer ratio of 1.04. Demand for assets lining the floor of these events may be in a healthy spot. But the qualifying standards for standout prices are growing more strict. As the supply of jerseys continues to hum to market (and hum, it will - there are seven more Sotheby's events scheduled in 2024), the bar for extraordinary will only rise.

Even Victor Wembanyama recording all kinds of debuts and rookie achievements won't permanently spare the results, although he continues to draw spirited bidding. The $82,550 paid for his City Edition jersey was the standout of last week's event, outperforming a $30,000 - $50,000 estimate.

The Sotheby's partnership no doubt represents a step forward for the category. It remains early, and expectations will be adjusted should audiences not rise to meet them. But gone are the days of shadows and obscurity on the NBA site, where jerseys had no estimates to stack up against. The spotlights are on the center of the collecting hardwood, and they're illuminating a clumsy tip-off.

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Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

The Hawkeye Finds New Heights: Rare Territory for Caitlin Clark Sports Cards
Alts & Ends

The Hawkeye Finds New Heights: Rare Territory for Caitlin Clark Sports Cards

Photo: PWCC

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In June of 2021, with the sports card market on a meteoric rise, Goldin dropped jaws with the $34,440 sale of Mia Hamm's 1992 Sports Illustrated for Kids rookie card. The result more than doubled the prior record for a women's sports card. In mere months, it would look like a paltry sum. As collectors consumed headlines celebrating the Hamm sale, they quickly turned their attention to the historically overlooked female portion of the market.

If that market's relative anonymity was about to end, then there was one athlete who stood to benefit immensely from the rising tide: Serena Williams.

Look, we don't study hydrodynamics, but as it pertains to markets of things, a rising tide does not always lift all boats. Sometimes, it lifts only the most impressive ones. From the absurdly lengthy list of on-court achievements to cultural impact, Williams exhibits many of the same qualities collectors look for among male icons. Following that logic, collectors focused their attention on her cards to close 2021 and begin 2022.

  • August 2021 - Serena's 2003 Glossy NetPro Elite card supplanted Hamm, selling for $36,000 at PWCC.
  • November 2021 - Her 2003 NetPro International Apparel Autograph sold for a "Buy Now" price of $100,000 at Alt, becoming the first six-figure women's sports card.  
  • January 2022 - Her 1999 SI for Kids card became the first women's sports card sold for six-figures at auction, reaching $117,000 at PWCC.
  • February 2022 - The escalation continued, this time with her 2003 NetPro International Apparel Autograph selling for $163,200 at Heritage.
  • May 2022 - A slightly higher-graded version of the same card notched the still-standing record of $263,200 at Goldin

Where those cards went, no other female athlete's followed. Those most enthusiastic about the women's sports card thesis piled into Serena - and Serena alone - at the high end. When the market sputtered, there was no safety net below, no sturdy foundation of collector demand to fall back on. The market had endured a rapid and steep climb to the top of the roller coaster track, and the hellish descent was about to hurl lunch onto spectators below.  

The very same card that set the $263,200 record in May sold again for $39,600 in November, a mere six months later.

There hasn't been a sale higher than $150,000 for a women's sports card since the record sale, and there's only been one higher than $100,000 (achieved just a month after the record). There were no confirmation sales of the record level achieved in May of 2022, especially outside of Serena. The market hadn't truly reset to those heights; it had just delivered a handful of hype-induced bidding wars in a frothy moment. That Mia Hamm rookie receded to $6,300. The value of Naomi Osaka collections vanished.

The top 2023 public sale of a Serena Williams card - and any female sports card - was $26,400. Appetite for cards of other female superstars was dormant, with only Sabrina Ionescu and Coco Gauff becoming new visitors to five-figure territory (and just barely in both cases). It was a year to forget for a trend that burned so bright a year earlier, a trend that appeared to be built to unsustainable heights on a mostly rational thesis married with market hysteria.

All of that makes what happened last week at PWCC more remarkable: Caitlin Clark's 1-of-1 Superfractor Auto from 2022 Bowman University, graded PSA 10, sold for $78,000.

That's the highest result for a women's sports card since June of 2022, a price that would have more than doubled the record from mid-2021. And it comes for a college card of an athlete still in college. Those factors, however, may work in Clark's favor - some speculate that her commercial value is higher now, at Iowa in the NIL era, than it will be in the WNBA. Whether that's true or not, sports fans are near universal in this assertion: Clark is absolutely box office. Her clutch, cerebral, and confident play has universal appeal, and that appeal may be revealing itself in card markets in ways we haven't seen over the last year and a half.

While the $78k result is somewhat of an outlier, there's evidence of growing demand further down the chain. For instance, another Clark Superfractor Auto from the set sold for $13,433 on eBay last week. Meanwhile, many of her refractors can be found among the set's top results after the cascade of Wembanyama cards and the much less frequent smattering of Caleb Williams.

It was never realistic to expect the market for women's sports cards to reach parity with men's in a few months time. What is realistic is the expectation that box-office stars with broad appeal can command box-office prices. It hasn't happened in awhile, but in Caitlin Clark, the women's card market might have found a new foundational building block.

After all, Serena could use a little help.

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Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

Headlines and Highlights: Week of January 26th
Market Commentary

Headlines and Highlights: Week of January 26th

Phillips Executive Shuffle

Phillips

Phillips has undergone significant changes in its executive staff following the sudden departure of its CEO Stephen Brooks. Ed Dolman, who previously served as the executive chairman, has been reinstated to lead Phillips in a new role that merges the responsibilities of the executive chairman and CEO. Amanda Lo Iacono, who has been managing the house’s 20th century and contemporary art departments, has been promoted to the new position of deputy chief executive officer, while Cheyenne Westphal continues as the global chairwoman. Dolman, who previously led Phillips through a period of substantial growth, had stepped down as CEO in 2021 but remained active in the company’s operations. His return is part of Phillips’ strategic response to recent challenges, including a 15% drop in global auction sales and financial pressures.

Phillips' leadership reconfiguration is aimed at steering the auction house through a tough economic climate, having experienced declining sales and revenue losses. This includes a decision by the board in October to withhold dividends to its Russian-owned Mercury Group, following poor UK sales results. The changes at Phillips come amid a broader context of economic difficulties in the auction industry, with the company looking to consolidate its strengths and navigate through these challenges. ARTNEWS

Details Regarding Major Transactions Come to Light During Sotheby’s-Rybolovlev Trial

Christie's

In the ongoing trial involving high-profile art transactions, key witnesses have shed light on the inner workings of the elite art world and the sales of some of the most expensive artworks. The trial, now in its third week, has focused on detailed testimonies about meetings and communications related to the sales. Samuel Valette from Sotheby’s detailed the 2013 sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s "Salvator Mundi" for $83 million, which included negotiations at a dinner in Paris. This artwork was later resold by Yves Bouvier to Russian billionaire Rybolovlev for $127 million, sparking Rybolovlev's fraud claims. The use of code names for major deals, such as “Cottonmouth” for Gustav Klimt’s "Wasserschlangen II," was also discussed, highlighting the secretive nature of these transactions.

Art advisor Sanford “Sandy” Heller, another key witness, recounted a lunch meeting in St. Barts that brought to Rybolovlev’s attention the dealings of Bouvier, leading to further revelations about the art world's dynamics. Heller's conversation with Rybolovlev included discussions about Amedeo Modigliani’s "Reclining Nude On a Blue Cushion," which had been bought by Rybolovlev at a significantly marked-up price. The trial, revealing intricate details of the art market and the roles of various players, is expected to continue until early- to mid-February. Representatives for Bouvier and Sotheby's have made statements defending their positions, while Rybolovlev's attorney has pointed out alleged lack of transparency and mismanagement in the transactions. ARTNET

Collectible Happenings

Courtyard.io launches site redesign highlighting dark mode, streamlined support, and new filtering functionality. COURTYARD

Dire Straits guitarist, Mark Knopfler, has consigned more than 120 guitars to be sold at Christie’s London on January 31st. CHRISTIE’S

Bob Beamon, famous for his record-breaking long jump at the 1968 Olympics, is auctioning off his gold medal through Hunt Auctions and Christie’s. It is expected to fetch between $400,000 and $600,000. SCDAILY

The personal collection of NHL legend Mike Bossy, including over 100 items, is set to be auctioned at the Heritage Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction starting February 2. The collection features significant pieces from Bossy’s career, such as his Stanley Cup rings, the first trophy he won at age nine, game-worn jerseys, and his Canadian passport, with some items expected to fetch upwards of $40,000. SCDAILY

2022 Bowman University Superfractor RC Auto DNA 10 1/1 Caitlin Clark sells at PWCC for $78,000. Setting the all time price record for a women’s basketball card. PWCC

Grey Flannel Auctions sells a 1990-91 Charles Barkley 76ers game-used jersey for $30,343. GREYFLANNEL

A long-lost portrait by Gustav Klimt, "Portrait of Fräulein Lieser," resurfaced after nearly a century and is expected to fetch up to $54 million at a Vienna auction house, im Kinsky. The painting, one of Klimt's last works and featuring the daughter of a Viennese industrial magnate, will tour internationally before its sale on April 24, marking a rare and significant event in the art market. ARTNEWS

Rafael Nadal's championship-winning racket from his 2007 French Open victory over Roger Federer is up for auction, with Prestige Memorabilia expecting it to potentially exceed $139,700, the record set by Nadal's 2022 Australian Open racket. This significant piece of tennis history, which marked Nadal's third Grand Slam title, was previously displayed in the Australian Tennis Museum before its closure. SCDAILY

Feel free to reach out to Keenan@Altaninsights.com for any questions/comments.

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Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.

Commander in Countenance: George Washington Portraits at Auction
Alts & Ends

Commander in Countenance: George Washington Portraits at Auction

Left: CHARLES WILSON PEALE, GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1795. OIL ON CANVAS. PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE PENNSYLVANIA COLLECTOR.Right: REMBRANDT PEALE, GEORGE WASHINGTON, 1795. OIL ON CANVAS. NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION; TRANSFER FROM THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART; GIFT OF THE A.W. MELLON EDUCATIONAL AND CHARITABLE TRUST, 1942

Photos: Sotheby's

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"Your Picture will survive me, and as my mortal remains will perish, my work will live & increase in value — especially in the estimation of those who entertain a just Veneration for the Great original, whose equal among Men has not been found."

Rembrandt Peale's confident declaration to the buyer of one of his George Washington portraits proved quite prescient. While we wouldn't recommend amending it for inclusion in the lot description of your eBay listing for a Victor Wembanyama rookie card ("your PSA 10 will survive me.."), we might still learn something from the prolific portrait painter's conviction.

Peale's work did indeed increase in value, and veneration for George Washington remains prominent, even if we're not in an era of peak patriotism. That reverence is evidenced by three Washington portrait sales in one Americana-charged week, totaling $5 million.

Rembrandt Peale's "porthole" portrait was the least expensive of the three, drawing a healthy $529,200 against an estimate range of $300,000 - $500,000 at Christie's. Peale created at least 79 of the porthole paintings, and this one is the most expensive to sell at auction by a measure of 2X, with the value perhaps improved by Peale's confident letter that accompanied both its original sale and this one. The prior high watermark was $235,500, established at Christie's in 2017.

But if you're not well-acquainted with the market for Washington portraits, it will surprise you to learn that Rembrandt Peale's work wasn't even the most expensive Washington portrait painted by someone with the name "Peale" to sell last week. Over at Sotheby's, Charles Willson Peale's Washington sold for $1,633,000.

Charles was probably better known to Rembrandt as "father."

C.W. Peale, the father, was distinguished in portraiture, painting Washington from life more than any other artist. While most of his works portrayed him as a military hero, the portrait sold at Sotheby's was the only one captured by Peale during Washington's presidency. The work was commissioned in 1795 by the retiring director of the U.S. Mint, Chancellor Henry William DeSaussure. Peale saw it as an opportunity for his son, Rembrandt, to perform his first commissioned work. Overcome with nerves, Rembrandt insisted his father sit alongside him with a canvas of his own. That's how the C.W. Peale painting at Sotheby's - one of three oil-on-canvas replicas from the session - came to be.

The $1,633,000 result was well below the $2,000,000 - $3,000,000 estimate. There's little frame of reference for the result, as such a copy hadn't sold publicly since 1954. C.W. Peale's largest auction result came at Christie's back in 2006, when his painting of Washington at Princeton sold for $21,296,000. His portraits are included in prominent museum collections and key U.S. government buildings, the White House among them.

As for Rembrandt, when you compare his output from that 1795 portrait session to his father's, it looks like a Crayola doodle by comparison. It makes you wonder if that's where Dale Doback got the idea that "it's all about who you know" in Step Brothers. Of course, we're just having fun at Rembrandt's expense.

It was a fine attempt and his first real one, the learnings from which further inspired him to pursue the definitive Washington portrait. His "Equestrian Portrait" and "Washington before Yorktown" works gained acclaim, as did the original painting which he replicated in porthole form. Still, his work did not reach the heights of his father, and his auction record stands at just over $1 million, set back in 2004 for "Washington before Yorktown."

The Peales, however, both came up short of Gilbert Stuart's work last week. Stuart's, a copy of a work commissioned by John Vaughan and thus named a "Vaughan Type," was also based on a 1795 Washington sitting (sidenote: how much time did GW spend getting painted in his lifetime? Days? Weeks?!). There are fourteen such "Vaughan Type" works, and they sit in collections at The National Gallery of Art, The University of Virginia, and Harvard among others.

This particular example was consigned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, selling for an impressive $2,833,000 at Christie's against a $1,500,000 - $2,500,000 estimate. Another Vaughan Type, from the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, sold at the house for $11,562,500 in 2018. It boasted provenance from John D. Rockefeller back to its original owner, Alexander Scott.

These diligent and spirited efforts to capture the essence of, as Rembrandt Peale put it, "the Great original" remain appreciated and coveted today. Their work lives, surviving all of them and likely all of us. While you might have previously thought Bronny and LeBron James were the popular, collectible father-son duo of the moment, you might want to offer some veneration to the Peales and their portraits. We'll take them over the Bowman U cardboard any day.

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Disclaimer: You understand that by reading Altan Insights, you are not receiving financial advice. No content published here constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. You further understand that the author(s) are not advising you personally concerning the nature, potential, value or suitability of any particular security, transaction, or investment strategy. You alone are solely responsible for determining whether an investment, security or strategy, or any other product or service, is appropriate or suitable for you based on your investment objectives and personal financial situation. Please speak with a financial advisor to understand if the risks inherent in trading are appropriate for you. Trade at your own risk.