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Auction Action: The Tennis Auction Serves Up Icons' Memorabilia
May 29, 2024

Auction Action: The Tennis Auction Serves Up Icons' Memorabilia

By 
Altan Insights
Prestige Memorabilia's Tennis Auction closes this weekend, with fascinating memorabilia from stars new and old, including Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Alcaraz, and Sampras.
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Foul Play in the Taylor Swift Memorabilia Market: Shake it Off or Bow Out?

Foul Play in the Taylor Swift Memorabilia Market: Shake it Off or Bow Out?

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.

There's no following more loyal than Taylor Swift fans on Reddit. When questions of authenticity emerged about a Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce dual-signed jersey donated to a charity auction, the Swifties on Reddit scrambled to defend their queen, eager to believe in another demonstration of her already thoroughly demonstrated generosity.

“I don’t think people realize that her real signature is vastly different from her signed merch signature. She uses a very simplified version on CDs and Vinyls because she has to sign 50k of them. For one-of-a-kind items like this that are for a good cause, she can take her time and make a more pretty signature that’s true to what her real one is,” a user named Flubby Starfish offered.

Anhuys chimed in: “Tbh I think it's possibly due to the material of the jersey. Look closely at the fabric on the numbers on a HQ photo of this jersey. That kind of texture will affect the way the marker glides and it's possible for her normal, muscle memory swoops to get warped when she goes over a fabric like that instead of something smooth like a CD/vinyl case.” 

That’s it. The fabric warped her muscle memory swoops, of course.

When items lack a high standard of authenticity, fans are forced to perform mental gymnastics to either think the very best of their hero or convince themselves the artist interacted with an item. In the case above, the gymnastics were unnecessary - it was never alleged that Swift and Kelce directly donated the item. Nonetheless, as internet sleuths quickly raised suspicions about its authenticity - from the signatures being fake to the jersey itself being a knock-off - the jersey’s existence sewed unease in a community hopeful that its star had performed yet another good deed in a very long line of them. 

The jersey eventually sold for $21,000 at the Linamar Curling for Kids event in support of the Guelph Wish Fund. It was accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Jerzey Sports Memorabilia, an organization run by the man who donated the item. However, once the winning bidder became aware of the suspicions, she enlisted the assistance of Beckett Authentication Services for a second opinion on the signature. The verdict? A heart-sinking thumbs down.

Even though Swift herself had nothing to do with the inauthentic jersey, events like these taint the market for associated memorabilia and merchandise, introducing doubt into a broader population of transactions. And it’s never good to be mentioned in relation to a tainted charity sale, regardless of involvement. In a space governed primarily by letters and certificates of authenticity, it’s a jarring reminder that a letter itself is often not an ironclad confirmation of an item’s integrity. Many letters are produced after an item is signed, lacking witness-based support. Even the most reputable ones are mostly opinion-based, albeit grounded in rigorous professional analysis. In a Taylor Swift market held back at the high end by a lack of authentication rigor, letters tend to form the shaky foundation upon which the market is built.

Take some of the top Taylor Swift auction lots of 2024 to date as examples:

2014 Glamour Magazine Photo Shoot Used Gibson Les Paul Guitar With Magazine

  • Price: $15,875 (Julien’s)
  • Authentication: Photo evidence but not photo-match documentation

Signed Signature Baby Taylor Model Guitar

  • Price: $12,700 (Julien’s)
  • Authentication: Provenance from Taylor Swift donation (no letter advertised)

Signed Epiphone Acoustic Guitar

  • Price: $12,438 (Iconic)
  • Authentication: LOA from Beckett Authentication Services

Signed Taylor 3/4 Scale Acoustic Guitar

  • Price: $9,340.62 (Iconic)
  • Authentication: LOAs from Beckett Authentication Services and James Spence Authentication

Baby Taylor Signed Guitar

  • Price: $8,501.76 (Iconic)
  • Authentication: None, but guaranteed to pass Third Party Authentication

Signed Epiphone Guitar

  • Price: $8,499.99 (eBay)
  • Authentication: LOA from James Spence Authentication

They mostly cluster in the high-four, low-five-figure range, which are no small sums considering most are unused items. The other commonality: they're often supported by letters, in many cases from reputable outfits like Beckett Authentication Services and James Spence Authentication. The presence of those authenticators in the best-performing lots is not a surprise, and collectors recognize the incremental value of their sign-off versus a less reputable LOA. But do Taylor Swift fans know enough to recognize that difference? Or is a letter just a letter? 

The jersey incident suggests that the latter is often the case, but as events like those become more prevalent and well-known, fans who don’t know the difference may avoid the memorabilia market altogether rather than parsing the merit of various authenticators. 

Even material sourced directly from the artist doesn’t achieve higher prices without additional support. Consider the signed Baby Taylor model acoustic guitar, advertised by Julien's as being directly donated by Taylor Swift to the Musicares Charity Relief Auction. It sold for $12,700. That’s by no means a weak result, outperforming a conservative $1,000 - $1,500 estimate and landing right in line with similar letter-supported lots, but the novice collector might expect direct provenance to outperform LOA-based support. 

However, that direct provenance means little without associated documentation, and the lack of it may scuttle the interest of otherwise willing buyers who are skeptical of their ability to one day sell the item on at a sturdy price. Similarly, fans and collectors would love to see the artist acknowledge that they’ve donated the item as a confirmation of sorts to supplement the credibility of the auction house’s description. 

The shakiness of a memorabilia market may not matter much to an already wealthy artist, but if it weighs on items donated directly from them, perhaps that’s a matter worth taking notice of. Taylor Swift herself doesn’t need the additional funds from memorabilia sales, but it could be another tool used in an already extensive charitable effort to direct funds to dear causes. Raising top dollar for those causes requires top-tier authenticity in a market where direct provenance is a strong tool, but a much stronger tool when demonstrably supported by the artist and by documentation that will extend beyond the winning bidder to future owners.

Those offerings are strengthened on a go-forward basis by tools and services like photo-matching (for used or worn items) and witness-based authentication (meaning a representative personally witnesses the signing or use), in addition to state-of-the-art, tamper-proof marking, hologram, and tagging technologies.  Digital ledgers associated with those technologies can then more effectively trace ownership from the artist to the current owner. 

To the extent an artist or athlete is known to use these methods in releasing product to the market, a credible brand develops and strengthens, ultimately leaving the products that lack the same backing in an inferior state of market acceptance. Parallels can be drawn to athletes signed with Upper Deck, for example. Items without Upper Deck certification that are marketed as being from a time after the athlete was known to sign with the company raise an instant red flag. 

For modern music memorabilia to better resonate with existing collectors and protect fans-turned-novice-collectors, artists will have to lead the way, putting the necessary guardrails in place to make the jersey incident a less common occurrence. Until then, Redditors will continue to contort themselves into mental pretzels to protect the honor of their queen.

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 March 29th
Market Commentary

Headlines and Highlights: Week of March 29th

Action Comics #1 on Track to Set New Record Price

A highly sought-after Action Comics #1, known as the Kansas City Pedigree, is positioned to become the most expensive public sale of a comic book to date. With the current bid standing at $4,250,000, and reaching $5,100,000 after fees, it's already on track to best the current record set by a $3.6M copy of “Amazing Fantasy #15”. This particular issue is notable for being one of only four pedigreed copies of Action Comics #1, which features the first appearance and origin story of Superman, marking a significant moment in both publishing and pop culture history.

The Kansas City Pedigree copy is distinguished by its remarkable condition, rated VF+ 8.5 by CGC, making it the highest-graded unrestored copy among the pedigreed versions known. Its rich colors, sharp corners, and almost pristine cover, despite being 85 years old, set it apart as a breathtaking example of comic book history. The importance of this comic extends beyond its physical condition; it represents the birth of the superhero genre and the cultural impact of Superman. HERITAGE

The current record for an Action Comics #1 stands at $3,250,000 sold at Comic Connect in 2021. 

Formula 1 and Topps Renew Licensing Deal

Formula 1 has renewed its exclusive trading card and sticker partnership with the Fanatics-owned Topps, ensuring that Topps remains the official licensee for the renowned global racing series. The relationship began in 2020, covering the production of trading card and sticker collections for the F1, F2, and F3 series. This deal will allow Topps to feature prominently at multiple Grand Prix events throughout the 2024 FIA Formula One World Championship, starting with the Austrian Grand Prix in late June, where exclusive cards will be available on-site.

Both entities expressed enthusiasm about the renewal, highlighting the importance of creative partnerships in attracting and engaging diverse audiences. Emily Prazer, Chief Commercial Officer for F1, emphasized the role of innovative partners like Topps in the sport's growth, while Kelvin Smith, Senior Vice President of Global Licensing and Partner Development at Fanatics Collectibles, mentioned the mutual benefits of the partnership in bringing fans and collectors closer to their favorite teams and drivers. SCDAILY

Collectible Happenings

Rally is IPOing the suit worn by Tony Montana worn during the wedding scene in ‘Scarface’. Shares are priced at $10 imputing a market cap of $20,000. RALLY

Bloomberg put out an article detailing Michael Rubin’s growing control of the trading card market. One interesting quote: “MLB wouldn’t share sales numbers, but a person familiar with its business says the league’s card sales have doubled in the two years since Topps’ ownership changed.” BLOOMBERG

Sothebys announces “Moutai Extravaganza| The Inaugural Live Sale” In which they will sell 274 lots of the Chinese Liquor. SOTHEBYS

Topps/Fanatics is concluding its exclusive deal with Caitlin Clark by releasing a high-end, online exclusive trading card product dedicated to the Iowa Hawkeyes star, priced at $850, making it the priciest trading card product for a female athlete. The "Collegiate Campaign" boxed set offers a career retrospective of Clark, including an autograph or autograph relic card, a relic card, and a pack of base and parallel cards, with shipping to begin 40-45 business days post-order receipt. SCDAILY

Beloved minimalist artist, Richard Serra, dies at 85. He is best known for his monumental steel sculptures that have been exhibited in museums worldwide. ARTNET

An untitled 1984 painting by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat is set to be auctioned at Sotheby’s this May, with an estimated value of $18 million, marking a significant increase from its last sale price of $2.65 million in 2010. This piece, part of a polarizing series created by the duo between 1984 and 1985, is highlighted as the apex of their collaboration and is expected to perform well, following a record $11.3 million sale for a Basquiat-Warhol painting in 2014. ARTNEWS

The Donald Judd Foundation is suing Kim Kardashian for mistakenly claiming a set of tables in her Skkn by Kim company offices were designed by Donald Judd, as revealed in a 2022 promotional video. The lawsuit alleges trademark and copyright infringement by the West Hollywood firm Clements Design, which created the tables, and stresses the Judd Foundation's strict policy against using Judd's furniture for marketing, amidst failed negotiations for an amicable resolution between the parties involved. ARTNEWS

A Steve Jobs signed business card has set the record for the most expensive signed Jobs card. It sold for a stunning $181,183 at RR Auction in a sale made up of 120 Jobs and Apple lots. RRAUCTION

Darren Rovell announces the forthcoming launch of his new collectibles media enterprise, CLLCT. The new venture intends to cover collectibles and memorabilia as an asset class starting April 8th. CLLCT

Check out this week’s Alts and Ends where we cover the results from Heritage’s Planet Hollywood sale and the RR Apple sale! ALTS & ENDS

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 March 22nd
Market Commentary

Headlines and Highlights: Week of March 22nd

Judy Garland’s Ruby Slippers to be Auctioned at Heritage

Judy Garland's ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz," previously stolen, are now heading to auction. The slippers, which are among only four surviving pairs from the timeless 1939 film, were recovered by the FBI in 2018 following their theft from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005. The shoes, maybe the most iconic piece of Hollywood memorabilia, were worn by Garland throughout the movie. Michael Shaw, the collector who owned the slippers when they were stolen, has partnered with Heritage Auctions for their sale, representing a high quality provenance in addition to the importance of the object itself.

The theft saga involved Terry Jon Martin, who pleaded guilty to the theft, and Jerry Hal Saliterman, charged with aiding in hiding the slippers and tampering with a witness. Despite the legal turmoil, the slippers' upcoming auction marks a joyful milestone, promising them a new home. Highlighted as superior in quality compared to the Smithsonian's pair by Forbes, these slippers may very well be the most exciting piece of hollywood memorabilia to come to auction in recent memory. THR

Sotheby’s to hold Inaugural ‘Sports Week’ as the House Wades Deeper into Game-Worn

Sotheby's

Sotheby's is diving deep into the sports memorabilia market with its inaugural "Sports Week," featuring six auctions featuring items from sports legends like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, and Kobe Bryant. 

This strategic move aims to tap into the booming demand for sports collectibles and attract a younger audience to the auction scene. The auction house notes the sports category has witnessed rapid growth, partly fueled by the popularity of documentaries like "The Last Dance," which reignited interest in Michael Jordan and expanded to other sports collectibles. The global sports memorabilia market continues to rake in headlines and Sotheby's intends to continue capitalizing on the trend.The house struck a partnership with the NBA for game-worn jerseys and continues to flesh out their sports department via collaborations with sports organizations.

The highlight of Sports Week includes auctions for iconic items such as Muhammad Ali's shorts from the "Thrilla in Manila" fight, estimated to fetch $4 million to $6 million, and a Kobe Bryant jersey from the 2009 NBA Finals, expected to go for $1.5 million to $2.5 million. Rare sneakers worn by NBA legends, including Jordan's Air Jordan 11s from the 1996 NBA Finals, are up for grabs, with estimates ranging from $200,000 to $400,000. Sotheby's also includes contemporary pieces, such as memorabilia from the recent NBA All-Star weekend. 

This event not only caters to seasoned collectors but also offers an entry point for new enthusiasts, with the entire sports collection anticipated to exceed $12 million in sales. Sotheby's seems committed to enriching its sports offerings in an effort to engage with a younger demographic of collectors. SOTHEBYS

Collectible Happenings

The Andy Warhol Foundation has agreed to pay over $21,000 to settle a significant copyright dispute with photographer Lynn Goldsmith, centered on Warhol's Prince artwork derived from Goldsmith's photo, a case that escalated to the US Supreme Court and underscored the complex implications of "fair use" in copyright law. This settlement resolves a years-long litigation, highlighting ongoing debates over artistic expression and copyright protections in the context of appropriated images in the art world.  ARTNET

Topps has partnered with the NCAA to release its first ever Bowman U March Madness basketball card product, offering packs with guaranteed autographs from college basketball stars like Zach Edey and Caitlin Clark through its NOW platform. The product, available online for a limited time, leverages Topps' NIL deals with athletes and includes dual autograph cards, with future collaborations with the NCAA anticipated. SCDAILY

Certified Collectibles Group (CCG) has reached a definitive agreement to acquire James Spence Authentication (JSA), combining two significant players in collectible authentication in hopes of enhancing services for autograph collectors. The move is illustrative of CCG’s move into the sports market, as they are currently known much more for comic books and TCG. CGC

A Shaquille O'Neal full uniform from the 1996-97 NBA season, worn during Kobe Bryant's NBA debut game, is up for auction in Heritage Auctions' Treasures from Planet Hollywood sale. This piece of NBA history, which marks the dawn of one of the league's most iconic duos, has been photo-matched to multiple games and showcases significant game wear, with a current bid of $75,000, the realized price will likely reach into the low six figures. HERITAGE

PSA has raised its Collectors Club membership price from $99 to $149, offering compensatory perks including a $60 to $125 Fanatics Live credit, exclusive to standard and premium members respectively. The membership now includes access to members-only card breaks, promo cards, magazine subscriptions, and grading discounts. SCDAILY

Courtyard.io has introduced a new feature on their site, a Pokémon Vending Machine. Users will be able to purchase up to 5 packs a day at $25 each. After opening the pack users can hold, trade, redeem, or accept a 70% buyback offer. COURTYARD

Big news for movie toy collectors, Heritage Auctions’ Planet Hollywood sale includes a group of 5 ‘Spaceballs’ action figures depicting Dark Helmet, Lone Starr, Barf, Princess Vespa, and Dot Matrix. As Yogurt once said, “merchandising, merchandising! Where the real money from the movie is made!”. Current bid sits at $29,000, if it ends up being the final bid it will be the third priciest Spaceballs objects to sell at Heritage; both a miniature model of the Winnebago ($49,600) and Dark Helmet’s helmet ($39,000) have sold for more. HERITAGE

Art Basel and UBS released their 2024 Art Market Report. Necessary reading for understanding the art market over the last year. ARTBASEL

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 March 15th
Market Commentary

Headlines and Highlights: Week of March 15th

Phillips Evening Sale Finds £13.7 million, Marking a Downtrend From Last Year

Phillips

Phillips's London evening sale of 20th century and contemporary art on March 7, which garnered £13.7 million ($17.3 million), failed to meet its presale estimate and fell short compared to the previous year’s equivalent sale. However, this event demonstrated some optimism for the art market in 2024, particularly within the contemporary sector, with new records set for artists Jesse Mockrin and Kehinde Wiley. The sale highlighted Phillips's year-on-year improvement among the major auction houses and introduced a successful bid for contemporary Saudi Arabian artist Alia Ahmad's work, indicating a positive reception for emerging artists.

The auction featured several standout sales, including Alia Ahmad's debut work which exceeded expectations, selling for four times its low estimate at £80,000 ($101,600), showcasing strong international interest. Additionally, Marina Perez Simão’s work doubled its low estimate, confirming the continued market heat for the Brazilian artist. A notable mention also goes to the sale of a portrait of Princess Diana by Andy Warhol, which sold for £2.4 million ($3.1 million), surpassing its estimated range and marking a high point for the artist’s market regarding Princess Diana-themed works.

Moreover, the auction presented a diverse array of works that captivated buyers worldwide, from Salvo's Mediterraneo fetching an estimate-doubling price to Jordan Wolfson's work almost doubling its presale estimate. ARTNET

Civil War Era Postage Stamp May Break Multi-Million Dollar Record

Siegel Auctions

In June 2024, Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries in New York will auction off an extremely rare 1868 one-cent “Z-grill” stamp featuring Benjamin Franklin from the collection of William H. Gross, the founder of Pimco. This stamp, one of only two known to exist and the only one available to collectors, is expected to fetch between $4 million and $5 million, potentially setting a new record for the highest price ever paid for a U.S. postage stamp. The sale will include 100 lots from Gross's prestigious stamp collection, with the auction taking place over two days at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel and the Collectors Club of New York.

The “Z-grill” stamp is distinguished by its unique embossed grill pattern, an anti-fraud feature introduced by the U.S. Post Office following the Civil War to prevent the reuse of stamps. This stamp, along with a few others featuring different grill patterns, represents a rare and significant period in philatelic history. Gross, who has been a major figure in stamp collecting, acquired the Z-grill in 1998 for $935,000, completing his collection and leading to a waning interest in further acquisitions. The upcoming sale of Gross's collection, expected to realize between $15 million and $20 million, marks a significant event in the world of stamp collecting, offering a rare opportunity to own a piece of postal history. ARTNET

Collectible Happenings

A rare, 14-karat gold Lego Bionicle Hau mask discovered in a donation box at a Goodwill store in western Pennsylvania sold for over $18,000, marking it as one of the most expensive individual Lego pieces ever auctioned. The piece, originally made as a limited edition prize for Lego competitions in 2001, was unknowingly listed on ShopGoodwill and fetched a final sale price after attracting significant attention and bids, with proceeds going to support Goodwill's charitable mission. ARTNET

RMSotheby’s Monaco sale will feature the collection of 1979 WDC Jody Sheckter, including multiple Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren automobiles. With the top lot expected to be 1979 Ferrari 312 T4, which is Enzo Ferrari’s last F1 World Championship winning car; estimated at between €5,250,000 - €6,500,000 EUR. RMSOTHEBYS

Rally’s Lamborghini Countach received a buyout offer earlier this week for $1 million. Following that offer they received something of a bidding war that found the car reaching a price of $1,181,250; resulting in a return of +86% since IPO and +125% since last trade. RALLY

An "ultra-specialized" gang of thieves stole a collection valued at around €1.2 million ($1.3 million), including jewelry and gold statues, from the Museo d'Annunzio Segreto at the Vittoriale degli Italiani in northern Italy, leaving behind significant damage to Umberto Mastroianni’s artistic legacy. The heist, carried out with meticulous planning and execution, has prompted an investigation by Italy’s specialized Carabinieri unit, amid concerns that the stolen artifacts may already have been melted down for their gold. ARTNET

Rally will be sending their NASA Apollo 11 Buzz Aldrin Control Stick to auction at RR Auction after an investor vote received 79.85% approval. RALLY

Steve Aoki’s vinyl grading service, Audio Media Grading (AMG), has acquired competitor Tuned in Grading. TWITTER

President of PSA, Ryan Hoge, was interviewed by NYPost about Caitlin Clark cards and their massive surge in value. YOUTUBE

ARTEX Stock Exchange begins trading with their Francis Bacon Canvas. ARTEX YAHOOFINANCE

Robert Edward Auctions is hosting a sale featuring over 3,400 items, including a vast array of baseball cards from historical figures like Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth, modern football cards such as a 2000 Bowman Chrome Tom Brady Rookie, and a selection of vintage unopened material from various sports. Highlights include a 1911 Sporting Life Honus Wagner Cabinet card, rare Babe Ruth strip cards, and highly graded cards of baseball legends, offering collectors a unique opportunity to acquire rare and iconic pieces with starting bids at $10, running through March 24. SCDAILY

Topps signs deal with Team Great Britain for the Olympics. SCDAILY

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.

Punks and Penguins are Bored of the Apes: Inside the Zombie-like Resurgence of NFTs
Alts & Ends

Punks and Penguins are Bored of the Apes: Inside the Zombie-like Resurgence of NFTs

Photo: Pudgy Penguins

This article was featured in our newsletter, Alts & Ends. Click here to subscribe for free and receive the best collectible market insights straight to your inbox on a weekly basis!

Bitcoin is up 63% year-to-date in 2024. Ether is up 70%. After surviving a winter filled with ridicule and told-you-so's, crypto has returned to both the headlines and the upper echelon of financial performers, rapidly gathering momentum and heeding none of the warnings of past cyclical busts. Cryptocurrencies are back like they never left.

While the currencies themselves took their lumps, the derision and mockery they endured paled in comparison to the celebratory funeral performed in memoriam of NFTs. Not since the Ewoks danced the night away around Darth Vader's burning corpse has a mainstream population been so thrilled to commemorate a death. And make no mistake: the vast, vast majority of NFT projects did die. A dappGambl report concluded that over 95% of more than 73,000 NFT projects had a market cap of zero. WAGMI (irritating NFT-speak for "we're all gonna make it") was wildly inaccurate. Less than 5% made it.

And yet, while uncles nationwide dance the lambada in celebration of their brave, Thanksgiving-table stance against cartoon pictures, select projects among the 5% are rising from their coffins like the Undertaker.

The sharp rise of Bitcoin is easily understood given positive market sentiment relating to ETF approval and the corresponding supply and demand imbalance. The arrival of ETFs has restored the crypto evangelist's view toward mainstream adoption, and the winter further concentrated available supply into the hands of those parties with the most conviction. As a result, growing demand, led by ETF fund flows, is forced to face a market landscape in which supply available for sale is limited and newly mined supply is scarcer still. Those circumstances, in addition to the longer-term bull case, create a powder keg for rapid appreciation.

The situation for NFTs, though, is more nuanced. No mainstream ETF flows are coming anytime soon, the overall supply of NFTs is incredibly vast, and the already small community of evangelists is even smaller now. But that doesn't mean some projects can't thrive.

Last week, we detailed the $16 million sale of a CryptoPunk, which more than doubled its last sale in 2021. But it's not just the rare "Alien" Punks mounting an extra-terrestrial comeback. Over the last six months, the CryptoPunks floor price is up 172% in USD terms per NFT Price Floor. While we can attribute much of that growth to the rise in ETH, it does still outpace the cryptocurrency. Plus, whatever the drivers, a current floor price over $200,000 suggests formidable demand for one of the first true community NFTs.

Like other projects, Punks suffered through crypto winter, with the floor price falling from a peak above $415,000 in 2021 to a trough below $53,000 in July 2022. Unlike most other projects, though, the pain somewhat abated from there, with the floor remaining relatively range-bound between $70-105k until last fall. As crypto regained momentum, so too did the Punks, and their resurgence was further buoyed by tight supply, a dynamic perhaps similar to Bitcoin's. Despite the sharp ascendancy in values, only 516 Punks have sold over the last 90 days. Nearly eight times as many Bored Apes have sold over the same period.

Because of their status as a foundational piece of the NFT ecosystem, a forerunner of all that would follow, it seems CryptoPunks are a magnet for demand from those who still believe in a bright future for NFTs as a vehicle. Their success, then, does not rely materially on a team's execution abilities, gaming applications, or airdrops (at least not to date). So far, their value is derived from something that can't be replicated, replaced, or tarnished. That could all change at a moment's notice, and one might argue the staying power is not at all comparable to, say, Michael Jordan's immovable position in basketball collecting. Skeptics can still offer most, if not all, of the traditional, low-hanging arguments against NFTs to contest the rationale for a CryptoPunk being worth at least $200k. Nonetheless, the market's continued validation of the project as one that stands elevated above peers is worth noting.

Not every project has enjoyed the same validation. Once more valuable than CryptoPunks, Bored Apes, which boasted the cool factor of celebrity ownership and experiential exclusivity, have not recovered with the crypto space. The 53% USD increase in floor price over the last 6 months is nothing to sneeze at, but relative to crypto broadly, it's not something for the Apes to beat their chests about either. Over the last 90 days, the average USD sale price is up about 17%; that figure is 89% for CryptoPunks. In ETH terms, that's a resounding loss in value for the Apes.

Some of BAYC's initial rise in value is attributable to consistent access to additional assets rounding out the Ape community, whether in the form of Mutant Apes, ApeCoin, or Otherside land. Ownership of an Ape meant access to more stuff in the ecosystem, and when the hype was at its highest, that stuff was valuable. Of course, the continued distribution of those derivative assets meant significant increases in supply, and for those assets to remain valuable, it would require the continued introduction of new demand. Crypto winter extinguished those hopes, making the premise of "more stuff" less appealing.

But the Apes - and Yuga Labs more broadly - have also been plagued by faltering execution. The Otherside game, where many of these assets would have value, has faced persistent delays, and the company's gaming efforts - those that have graced the public eye, anyway - have been panned. The gaming stumbles are demonstrative of organizational turmoil at Yuga, which saw Activision vet Daniel Alegre enter and exit as CEO of the company in less than a year.

As for the cool factor, that's tough to maintain amid falling values and reports of severe eye-burn caused by UV lights at a BAYC event. Nothing "cool" about damage to the eyes. Suddenly, the laser-eyed Apes seem kind of messed up, like Dale and Brennan's tuxedos when they botch the job interview in Step Brothers.

The struggles are emblematic of execution risk in collectibles. The more the value of a collectible depends on the execution abilities of human beings, whether via marketing, ecosystem building, or otherwise, the higher the risk. Executing the lofty BAYC vision, which sounded promising to many 2-3 years ago, has proven challenging. CryptoPunks, even though their brand is also owned by Yuga Labs, do not face the same challenges.

Execution risk isn't always a bad thing. Sharp, targeted execution can be the difference between floundering in the icy waters of crypto winter and waddling toward a brighter future - just ask the Pudgy Penguins.

When members of the "Huddle" feared a rug-pull in 2022, with the project's founding members struggling to execute the vision they laid out originally, it was clear change was needed or the "Pengus" too would join the 95% of zeroed-out projects. That's when Luca Netz acquired the brand and began building the igloo that would insulate the Penguins from a bear market. Netz and team have built the brand carefully and strategically, all while maintaining a focus on creating the infrastructure for members of the Huddle to enjoy licensing revenue from the use of their Penguins.

Most notably, Pudgy Penguins toys recently earned an extension of a partnership with Walmart, which delivered more than $10 million in sales across over 750,000 toys sold. The characters are resonating in the real world, but the grander vision points once again to an open, digital meeting ground called Pudgy World; QR codes sold with the physical toys will enable customizations and unlocks in the game. Such a vision has yet to achieve success elsewhere, and the risk remains significant. As quickly as something becomes cool, it can fall out of favor with poor execution.

For the moment though, tactful execution has propelled the Penguins to new heights. At the time of that changing of the guard in 2022, the Penguins' floor price was under 1 ETH, while BAYC's lingered in the 60s. Today, they trade close to parity at 13-14 ETH (mid $50,000s).

Typically, one expects a phoenix to rise from the ashes, not a penguin, but there's nothing typical about NFTs, is there? They're not rising in lockstep, though, and the rising crypto tide isn't lifting all boats, many of which were already left destroyed on the ocean floor. Those that do rise are relying on more watertight construction or superior navigational skills. As always, NFTs may not be for everyone, particularly as collectibles, but there are lessons to be learned regardless. To the extent a collector is financially motivated, they should be aware of the execution risk present in the collectible of their choosing and confident in the parties responsible for managing that risk.

Failure to do so can result in getting burned, both in the wallet and - apparently - the eyes.

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 March 8th
Market Commentary

Headlines and Highlights: Week of March 8th

Christie’s and Sotheby’s London Sales Display Mixed Results

Sotheby’s

Sotheby's London garnered £100 million ($126.6 million) from a somewhat subdued modern and contemporary art evening sale, including the The Now auction of ultra-contemporary works. While achieving close to its presale low estimate before fees, the event was neither a resounding success nor a failure, showing a steady, if cautious, market. Top prices were fetched by established artists, but significant excitement was generated by several newcomers, particularly female artists, with records set by Takako Yamaguchi and Rebecca Warren, and notable sales for Jadé Fadojutimi and Emma Webster. 

Study of George Dyer, Bacon

Despite a low proportion of guaranteed works, the Sotheby’s auction saw a few sparks of intense bidding, notably for Francis Bacon's "Study of George Dyer," which sold for £6.8 million ($8.7 million), and Françoise Gilot's portrait from Arianna Huffington's collection, achieving four times its estimate at £723,900 ($918,774). The sale, marked by international participation from 41 countries, reflects a cautious optimism in the recovering art market.

Christie’s

Christie's recent London auction underscored its market dominance, generating £196.7 million ($251.8 million), a significant leap from last year's £128 million ($163.9 million). The event was highlighted by Francis Bacon's "Landscape near Malabata, Tangier" fetching £19.63 million ($24.9 million) as the top lot. With 87 offerings, 69 lots sold, demonstrating a strong 79% sell-through rate. Despite withdrawing 7 lots, Christie's exceeded presale estimates, reflecting the auction's robust performance. 

Landscape near Malabata, Tangier, Bacon

Notably, 25 lots were guaranteed, with a whopping 61% of the presale low estimate covered by third-party guarantees. Additionally, the auction set new records for women artists, including Allison Katz and Jadé Fadojutimi, showcasing a growing recognition of female talent in the art market.

Collectible Happenings

Iowa women's basketball star Caitlin Clark signs a landmark multi-year deal with Panini America for trading cards and memorabilia, marking the company's first exclusive partnership with a female athlete. This collaboration, highlighting Clark's significant achievements and her status as a generational talent, will launch with a special collection celebrating her as the all-time leading scorer in women's college basketball, with pre-orders expected in April. SICOLLECTS

Author Neil Gaiman sat down with Heritage Auctions before the sale of his collection to talk about collecting and what the pieces mean to him. YOUTUBE

Photographer Michael J. Le Brecht has sued both Upper Deck and Fanatics on copyright infringement, he has alleged that the trading card companies have used his iconic photo of Lebron dunking. TWITTER

The Frida Kahlo Corporation (FKC) filed lawsuits against online sellers for counterfeiting its trademarks on Frida Kahlo products, demanding $2 million per infringement or all associated profits. The lawsuit, aimed at protecting the iconic artist's image, claims these sellers are part of an interconnected network using "fictitious names" to evade legal action and sell counterfeit items. ARTNET

Heritage Sports has announced reaching $1 Billion in total sales since opening the department in 2004. YOUTUBE

MeiGray is running three auctions for practice and photo-shoot worn jerseys from Islanders and Devils players during the Stadium Series. MEIGRAY

Adweek highlights how Topps and Fanatics are leveraging nostalgia and name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals, featuring athletes across generations like LeBron James and his son Bronny, to connect with both millennial collectors and younger demographics. These efforts aim to expand the sports trading card market, currently valued at $12.9 billion, by tapping into the memories of older fans while building new ones with younger audiences. ADWEEK

A JMW Turner watercolor, bought for £100 at a clearance sale, has been identified as the artist's early work and set for auction with a £20,000–£30,000 estimate. The painting, once unknown and hung in a dining room, was authenticated through Tate's Turner Bequest, showcasing Turner's architectural draughtsmanship from his tours around Britain starting in 1791. ARTNEWS

Guy Wildenstein, a prominent French-American art dealer, has been found guilty of tax fraud by a Paris appeals court, concluding a lengthy legal battle over accusations of concealing artworks to evade inheritance taxes. Wildenstein, 78, president of Wildenstein & Co. in New York, received a four-year prison sentence for what prosecutors have called "the most sophisticated tax fraud" in modern France, involving artworks hidden across various countries and entities. ARTNEWS

Altan Insights has partnered with Styr Trade on a blog post outlining interesting sneaker trades from the last year. ALTAN INSIGHTSSTYRTRADE

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.

Hands off the Tuxedo: Breaking Down the Collectors Acquisition of SGC Grading
Alts & Ends

Hands off the Tuxedo: Breaking Down the Collectors Acquisition of SGC Grading

This article was featured in our newsletter, Alts & Ends. Click here to subscribe for free and receive the best collectible market insights straight to your inbox on a weekly basis!

Consolidation has become the norm in the already incestuous collectibles industry. By now, we're accustomed to watching the category's titans plug gaps in their offerings with complementary acquisitions. That's par for the course. What we've seen less of, though, are acquisitions with significant competitive overlap between target and acquirer. That changed in a significant way last week when Collectors Holdings Inc., the parent company of card-grading market leader PSA, announced its acquisition of SGC Grading.

Suddenly, Hobby Twitter became wealthy with newly gathered expertise in competition law. "Monopoly!" was no longer a board game featuring a monocled man and a thimble, but instead the outcry of the frustrated collector. Like loyal fans who watched in disgust as their favorite under-the-radar band sold out and went mainstream, many with an affinity for SGC bemoaned what the new state of play might portend. In fairness, it seems that the collecting community rarely supports anything change-related in the Hobby.

From the Collectors (capital C) point of view, you could make the case for any number of rationales in support of the acquisition. First and foremost, SGC is a rising competitor in card grading. Though the company has been around since 1998, it won the affection of a growing number of collectors in recent years, particularly at the height of the grading surge during and after the pandemic. While incumbent leaders slogged through backlogs and raised prices according to the fickle laws of supply and demand, SGC seemed to offer a friendly alternative. Shorter lead times, lower prices, and according to some, better customer service.

Data from Gemrate suggests SGC only tallied a little less than a tenth of PSA's total volume of graded cards in 2023. For the moment, the company remained small in scale compared to the industry leader, and PSA's market share was not under immediate, existential threat. But that doesn't mean there was no threat.

In 2023, Gemrate data shows SGC increased total card grading volume by close to 30%, including 24% growth in sports and an explosion in TCG from a very small base. By comparison, PSA's total volume was up 20%, but that growth was driven entirely by TCG; Sports & Misc was down about 2%. There is evidence of growing SGC appeal in card values as well as card volumes. Data from CardLadder indicates that high-graded SGC cards have outperformed their PSA counterparts in pivotal ultra-modern sports categories over the last two years.

SGC wasn't going to surpass PSA in share tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after. But, it boasted one of the industry's strongest collector approval ratings, rapid growth across categories, and the three most expensive sports cards of all time, each nestled snugly in tuxedo slabs.  By acquiring SGC now, Collectors turns a looming threat into a resource, bolstering its own competitive position with grading talent and introducing potential benefits of infrastructure and scale to SGC.

However, it would be fair to argue that SGC posed the greatest threat to PSA and Collectors not on its own, but rather as a weapon wielded by a larger competitor. The acquisition could have instead served as a pre-emptive strike against a potential Fanatics entrance into the authentication and grading space. If Fanatics is indeed looking to enter the category - given the grader-sized hole in its current arsenal of collectibles products and services - what target was better than SGC? And if the company is looking elsewhere (at Beckett, for example), then Collectors' competitive position is all the stronger to ward off whatever threat it poses. If Fanatics isn't looking to enter the space, which is entirely possible, then Collectors' position remains formidable.

Of course, collectors (lowercase c) don't have to like any of those justifications. They preferred their plucky underdog the way it was. While the party line is that SGC will continue to operate as an independent brand, collectors rare fearing and suspecting the worst (as they tend to do), certain that the plucky competitiveness will fade aboard the Death Star of a larger collectibles empire. Will those collector-friendly traits slowly diminish under the corporate thumb? Will SGC be positioned as a discount brand, weakening the value of SGC-graded cards on the secondary market?

For Collectors, the move is another that makes some in the collecting community uneasy following the acquisition of Goldin a few years back. If collectors were uncomfortable about the closeness of a grading company and an auction house, you can imagine they'll be similarly displeased about the closeness of a grading titan and a smaller competitor. Goldin, however, is heavily rumored (emphasis on rumor) to be on the auction block itself, and an SGC-in-Goldin-out maneuver would represent a refocused emphasis on the true picks and shovels of the collecting universe.

Without wading haphazardly into the complexities of competition law like a golfer into the long alligator-filled grass in search of his ball, it does seem likely that myriad parties will fume at the consummation of this deal. And unless Collectors want the ranks of the fuming to grow, the company would be wise to heed one directive: keep your mitts off the tuxedo slab. Some collectors just fancy the black-tie look.

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.

Unboxing the Most Interesting Sneakers to Trade In the Last Year
Asset Class Insights

Unboxing the Most Interesting Sneakers to Trade In the Last Year

Photo: Diego Jaramillo

This sneaker market content is produced in partnership with STYR Trade, the next-generation, instant-trading sneaker marketplace. Sign up for the STYR waitlist today.

Big picture, 2023 was a reset year in sneakers after feverish activity in the years prior. While it wasn’t a year of broad, explosive appreciation, there were still trading opportunities for those with a trained eye. In some cases, those opportunities arose from volatility, whether caused by restocks, news, or seasonality. In other cases, an imbalance of supply and demand for some of the year’s most coveted drops created unyielding positive momentum. Let’s unbox ten of the most interesting sneakers to trade over the last 12 months.

Jordan 4 Retro SB “Pine Green”

It will surprise few to find the consensus 2023 Sneaker of the Year on this list. From the moment photos started to surface, sneakerheads globally applauded the fresh take on an old favorite. Despite a few shock-drop restocks, supply was never sufficient to satiate the rampant demand that followed, particularly as the shoe continued to headline sneaker award conversations going into year-end. Per StockX price chart data, the price for the most popular size 10 hit its annual low in the days after release at $354. By year end, it was at $520, continuing to trend upwards today. Without factoring in any fees (more on fee drag later), that’s a gain of 50% for an instant classic. 

The largest outcomes came in the largest sizes. Size 13s sold for as little as $398 in the immediate aftermath of the release. Today, prices hover just below $700, improving upon that 50% gain in size 10 with a 75% gain here. Brands often offer less supply of larger sizes, so prices can rise more explosively when a sneaker is a hit. For example, size 13s had about a third of the volume of size 10s over the last 12 months on StockX.

There was no shortage of volume available to trade overall: over the last 12 months, StockX reports nearly 26,000 pairs sold across sizes at an average price of $392, amounting to over $10 million in total volume.

Photo and Price Chart: StockX

Jordan 4 Retro “Thunder”

A sneaker doesn’t need to headline any award lists to be an interesting candidate for price appreciation. Perhaps drafting in the wake of a standout year for the Jordan 4, the “Thunder” release dropped to little acclaim and low premiums in May but consistently rallied throughout 2023. Resale prices dipped below $250 weeks after release and ended the year above $310, good for 24% gains before the dreaded fees. Believe it or not, the Thunders were actually responsible for more StockX volume over the last 12 months than the acclaimed Pine Green release, with more than 43,000 pairs selling at a total volume of more than $11.8 million. 

Photo and Price Chart: StockX

Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 V2 “Onyx”

Few sneakers have been more volatile than Yeezys over the last 18 months, and the Onyx 350 V2 is a striking example of an erratic price chart. When Ye was at his worst and the Adidas partnership was terminated, resale markets actually reacted by considering the possibility that Yeezy supply would dry up. Prices of the Onyx 350 increased from levels between $320-330 before the announcement to a January peak of $416 before a February retreat to $327 and a subsequent April rally back to $405. 

And then, the restock hit. 

Additional pairs flooding to market meant that prices cratered, reaching a trough of $235 in June. Once the market digested those pairs, a slow but steady march to higher prices resumed. While the StockX price chart shows levels around $270 for a size 10 today, recent sales on the platform don’t reflect transactions that high. 

Photo and Price Chart: StockX

Playing the restock as a Level 1 Seller on StockX -  with a 9% transaction fee and shipping charges - would make profits hard to come by. Successful outcomes in this specific case would’ve required scale (leading to more accommodative fees) and/or lesser platform friction. Generally speaking, the frictional costs on the incumbent platforms dull or even eliminate profits for sellers lacking scale and higher selling credentials; conducting both the purchase and sale transactions on one of these platforms would make many trading opportunities more theoretical than achievable in practice. 

Additionally, the pain would’ve been immense for a buyer at the top of the market who had buyer’s remorse and chose to sell after the restock:

As an aside, two-way shipping erodes profits for pure speculators who don’t actually need the sneakers in their possession, and it also poses disadvantages of time if those buyers wish to sell the sneakers quickly, as they may miss opportunities to sell while waiting on inventory to ship to them. 

UGG Tasman Slipper “Chestnut” (Women’s)

If the inclusion of the “Thunder” Jordan 4 surprised you, you’ll be floored to see an UGG slipper. But the price charts don’t lie. UGG Brand had a massive 2023, closing the year with 15% year-over-year revenue growth in the quarter ending December 31st. Among the popular products was the women’s Tasman Slipper, but if you were paying attention in 2022, that wouldn’t have come as a shock. In 2022, resale prices increased more than three-fold from a low near $50 in the summer to over $170 in the weeks ahead of the holidays. The increase in popularity late in the year accompanies the arrival of the holidays and colder temperatures, and the willingness of sellers to part with pairs in the heat of summer tells you the market is not particularly efficient. 

Inefficiency means opportunity. 

In 2023, prices once again dipped below $100 to a trough of $88 before exploding as high as $155 on December 9th. More than 37,000 pairs traded hands on StockX over the last 12 months, providing plenty of opportunity to play this seasonality-driven trend.

Photo and Price Chart: StockX

Jordan 3 Retro “White Cement Reimagined”

The “Reimagined” Jordan 3 release was predictably among the most popular and sought-after sneakers of the year. It took little foresight to expect that - even in a down year - one of the most iconic Jordan colorways would attract more demand than supply could satisfy. As is not uncommon for sneaker releases, prices for Reimagined pairs dipped in the weeks following their March release. In May, size 10 pairs reached their low beneath $250, steadily rising to follow the typical J-curve of a release. Prices finished the year near $325, where they continue to linger today. Playing the J-curve won’t always work out, but with a little patience, the right sneaker, and some opportunistic action, the industry’s icons tend to pay off. 

This was the highest volume sneaker on StockX from our list over the last 12 months, generating over 43,000 sales and total volume just under $12 million across all sizes.

Photo and Price Chart: StockX

Nike Dunk Low Next Nature “White Light Orewood Brown” (Women’s)

As highlighted in the Yeezy example, restocks can create opportunity as sellers hastily unload pairs fearing the new supply will forever reset the prevailing market price to lower levels. That sharp drawdown in price is often short-lived as the market eventually digests new supply and returns to a demand-driven trajectory. Late year restocks of the Light Orewood Brown Women’s Dunk sent prices cratering from above $300 in the first quarter of the year to a low of $119 in November. By year-end, though, prices had rebounded to $191 and they continue to hover in the high $100s today. Some might overlook the women’s sneaker space, but the category is significantly more active than it was ten or even five years ago. 

Photo and Price Chart: StockX

New Balance 990v6 “Action Bronson Baklava”

Few brands have been hotter than New Balance over the last two years, and Action Bronson’s collaborations on the 990v6 were among the most desirable releases of 2023. The “Baklava” colorway was polarizing among sneakerheads, and the initial buzz faded in the months following their March release, bringing size 10s to a low of $305 in early June. Since then, the value has increased, occasionally finding sale prices above $450 and mostly settling just below $400. Supply has largely dried up, but Action Bronson collab hype hasn’t, with New Balance 1906R releases set to hit in 2024. 

The less touted “Lapis Lazuli” colorway also offered under-the-radar upside, reaching a low under $250 and selling in the mid-to-high $300s more recently. 

Photo and Price Chart: StockX

ASICS Gel-Kayano 14 “Kith Cream Scarab”

By far the lowest volume sneaker on our list, only 442 pairs of the ASICS Gel-Kayano 14 Kith collab have sold over the last 12 months on StockX. But that low volume is in part what allowed for such significant appreciation in recent months. The ASICS Gel-Kayano 14 was among the breakout models in the mesh runner trend that took hold of the sneaker market in late 2022 and 2023. So the marriage of the model’s popularity, the demand for KITH collaborations, and the low supply pushed the price from a low of $267 a week after release to sale prices in the low-to-mid $400s at the start of 2024. Not bad for a running shoe model that debuted in 2008.

Photo and Price Chart: StockX

Nike SB Dunk Low “Jarritos”

You might have thought the Dunk phase was over as Nike ratcheted up supply on colorways like the Panda to make them more accessible than ever before. Perhaps Dunk fatigue was setting in. 

That seemed to be the belief when the Jarritos Dunk Low approached its early May release date. Before the sneaker even dropped, its resale price fell to the lowest level it would ever face, with size 10s reaching $324 on May 1st ahead of the May 10th release. The Jarritos Dunk hasn’t looked back since, spending time above $600 in July. Price action has been a bit choppy since, with some activity in the high $400s, but today, prices in the high $500s are still attained. General release Dunks may be more available than ever before, but the most exciting releases of the year remain both highly limited and highly coveted.

Photo and Price Chart: StockX

Jordan 6 Retro “Chrome Metallic Silver”

If the “Thunder” Jordan 4 was insufficient proof that unspectacular releases can still deliver appreciation, look no further than the “Chrome Metallic Silver” Jordan 6. The sneaker released in late 2022 to little hype, and its lack of initial resale momentum may have contributed to diminishing supply, as these found their way more to feet than to inventory. Only about 5,000 pairs have sold on StockX across sizes in the last 12 months, which is relatively low for this type of Jordan release. Prices in the low $200s at the end of 2022 steadily climbed into the high-$200s and low-$300s towards the end of 2023 and beginning of 2024. 

That momentum was a bright spot and a rarity for initially underwhelming Jordan releases last year. But now that releases no longer unanimously sell out immediately and deliver huge premiums on resale marketplaces, the initial reaction doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. The composition of initial buyers matters, and when it’s less resale-driven, there’s likely to be less future supply in circulation.

Photo and Price Chart: StockX

Exhibit - StockX Data, Last 12 Months

Data compiled from StockX on March 1st

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 March 1st
Market Commentary

Headlines and Highlights: Week of March 1st

Collectors Holdings Acquires Top Grading Competitor in SGC

Collectors Holdings, the parent company of PSA, has announced its acquisition of SGC, a competitor in the trading card authentication and grading market. This move brings two of the top four brands in the sector under one umbrella but intends to operate them independently with SGC's existing management team intact. SGC President Peter Steinberg emphasized that SGC will continue as an independent brand and looks forward to leveraging Collectors' resources to enhance their services and offerings, especially in modernizing and innovating within the grading space.

PSA holds a significant portion of the grading market, with recent figures showing PSA graded approximately 291,000 trading cards in a week, overshadowing SGC's 32,000. Despite SGC's smaller scale, it has a strong foothold among vintage card collectors and has been actively expanding into the modern card segment with competitive services. The acquisition by Collectors Holdings is expected to bolster SGC's capabilities and offerings, potentially speeding up service times for PSA through resource sharing and technical expertise provided by PSA to SGC.

The acquisition follows Collectors Holdings' previous strategic moves in the collectibles industry, including the purchase of auction company Goldin and the analytics platform Card Ladder. With a significant investment in technology and expansion, including opening an office in Japan, Collectors Holdings aims to enhance the products and services across its brands. SCDAILY

Christie’s and Elton John Bring in $20 Million After Week Long Sale Schedule

The Christie’s auction series featuring items from Elton John’s collection ended on a high note, bringing in a total of $20.5 million, more than double the low estimate. The auction, which included a vast array of items ranging from paintings and photographs to custom-designed clothes and fine jewelry, saw collectors vying for pieces like Banksy’s Thrower Triptych and a pair of silver leather platform boots belonging to Elton John, fetching prices far above their estimates. Among the 900 items auctioned, John’s extensive photography collection stood out, with works by Richard Avedon, Steven Meisel, and Irving Penn, underscoring the artistic and personal significance of the auctioned pieces.

Christie’s international head of photographs, Darius Himes, remarked that the auction not only showcased valuable artistic and personal items but also cemented the cultural legacy of Elton John, one of the world’s most iconic figures. The sale highlighted John's diverse taste and contributions to the arts, with significant sales like an Avedon silver print fetching $201,600. This auction series has successfully reflected the depth of John's collection and his impact on the cultural and artistic landscape, leaving a lasting legacy that goes beyond his music career. ARTNEWS

Check out our post in partnership with The Realest digging into the Elton John sales and celebrity provenance ALTAN INSIGHTS

Collectible Happenings

Heritage Auctions sold a rare, full case of 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee hockey cards, which may include an estimated two dozen Wayne Gretzky rookie cards, for a staggering $3.72 million. This sale, marking the highest for a hockey card case, notably surpassed the previous record set by an unopened case of 1986-87 Fleer Basketball, and highlighted the growing interest and value in sports memorabilia. SCDAILY

Topps Series 1 Baseball first cards were apparently released without the “First Card” designation, says Topps. Collectors who received these cards can contact Topps for them to be stamped. TWITTER

KolleXor, initiated by three childhood friends, has entered the market with a $3.5 million valuation, aiming to redefine the collecting experience by focusing initially on sports memorabilia with plans for rapid expansion. The platform intends to foster a community for collectors to showcase, trade, and connect, emphasizing accessibility and interactivity for collectors of all levels, with ambitions to extend into entertainment memorabilia. YAHOO

Despite having no physical card shops, Ireland's passion for sports and collecting paved the way for Enzo Patriarca and Jason Flynn, co-founders of Soccer Cards United, to host "The International" card show in Dublin, inspired by America's The National. The event, exceeding expectations, attracted 1,500 attendees and featured 110 tables, showcasing a mix of sports cards, memorabilia, and international vendors, solidifying Dublin's place in the global collecting community and hinting at further growth in the European market. SCDAILY

Collectors Holdings, the parent company of PSA, has acquired SGC, marking a significant consolidation within the sports collectibles grading industry. While the terms and future implications of the deal for collectors remain under wraps, the move is seen as a strategic play by Collectors Holdings to bolster its position in a competitive market, potentially in anticipation of moves by other major players like Fanatics. The acquisition could leverage SGC's loyal customer base and experienced grading team, aiming for synergies and expanded services within Collectors Holdings' growing empire, valued at over $4 billion. SCDAILY

Artnet released their “The Intelligence Report”, wherein they share deep insights and data on what is driving the global art market. ARTNET

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.