Headlines and Highlights by Altan Insights: July 16, 2021
The alternative asset world is moving at speeds previously unseen, and you'd be forgiven for missing key news or cool details from the space in recent weeks. Worry not; we've got you covered with a roundup of happenings, factoids, and auction results across the various asset classes. Some have direct application to the fractional world, others are just for fun. Either way, we can assure you that you'll emerge with your finger more firmly on the pulse of the alts world by the end.
- Not sure how any members of our audience would have missed this, but the record for the most expensive sealed video game of all time was broken twice last weekend at Heritage Auctions. First, it was The Legend of Zelda setting the new mark at $870,000. Two days later, a 9.8 copy of Super Mario 64 nearly doubled that record, selling for $1,560,000. Find a full breakdown of the auction and its implications for fractional investors here.
- It was announced that the leader in video game grading, Wata Games, was acquired by PSA parent company, Collectors Universe. The first thing on nearly everyone’s mind? The impending arrival of population reports.
- Certified Collectibles Group, fresh off the acquisition of a majority stake by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities, announced that it’s entering the video game grading space, launching CGC Video Games.
- Mere weeks after Vint launched its St. Emilion Upgrade Collection, the St. Emilion Classification was struck with controversy, as two renowned estates, Châteaux Cheval Blanc and Ausone, announced their intention to withdraw. The decision comes as a result of judging criteria increasingly focused on marketing, PR, and social media.
- In further French wine controversy, Champagne producers are now faced with a dilemma if they wish to export their product to Russia. The country is requiring that the words “sparkling wine” be added to the back of the label. The producers, of course, object to describing their Champagne in that way, and the industry is halting shipments to Russia.
- The Liv-ex 100, representing price performance for the 100 most sought-after wines, was up 5.9% in the first half of 2021, while the broader Liv-ex 1000 was up 5.47%, gaining in 10 consecutive months.
- In noteworthy news involving other libations, Skinner Auctions sold the oldest known bottle of whiskey for $137,000 at their Rare Spirits Auction. Carbon dating analysis was performed by the University of Georgia and experts determined with 81.1% certainty that the bourbon was from 1763-1803. This particular bottle was once owned by legendary financier J.P. Morgan and the final sale price exceeded pre-sale estimates by nearly $100,000.
- It’s a busy week at Sotheby’s, where a Fine Books and Manuscripts auction wraps up today in New York, and a Books and Manuscripts of the 19th and 20th Century auction concludes Tuesday in London. On offer: several first edition copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in varying condition, as well as a first edition presentation copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.
- In what has to be the most expensive 1981 Ford Escort Ghia sale on record, one such car given by Prince Charles to Princess Diana as an engagement present sold for £52,640 ($72,800) at auction.
- Sotheby’s is set to offer Formula 1 Champion Lewis Hamilton’s Grand Prix winning 2010 McLaren-Mercedes MP4-25 at auction. Before it sells, the car will take to the track at Silverstone this weekend at top speed once again. In this chassis, Hamilton won the Turkish Grand Prix, and it was additionally driven by another world champion, Jensen Button, during that season. The sale estimate is $5,000,000 to $7,000,000 for a truly unique piece of Formula 1 history, as the sport experiences a sudden and rapid uptick in popularity amongst a new generation of enthusiasts.
- Exciting news for attendees of the National later this month, as PSA announced that it will be providing onsite grading services. If you’ve got a backlog building and money to spend, load up the luggage!
- The long-anticipated Memory Lane auction of the Thomas Newman Collection did not disappoint, with five lots clearing $1 million. Perhaps most notably, though not the highest sale, a PSA 8 1952 Topps Mantle sold for $2,112,000, prompting significant returns this week for the card on Collectable. We have the full auction recap here.
- Speaking of Mantle, collector Marshall Fogel loaned out his PSA 10 1952 Topps Mantle for display across the street from Coors Field during All Star week. Fogel told Collectable that he received an offer for $25 million six months ago. As Fogel put it, "these Wall Street guys buy the works of Renior or Degas. What's $20 million to them?"
- Shohei Ohtani continues to take the baseball world by storm, proving his international star power throughout All Star week. Unsurprisingly, one of his cards set the high mark for his standalone cards at auction, when a Bowman Chrome Rookie Autographs Orange Refractor sold for $148,830 at Goldin Auctions.
- SCP Auctions featured a handful of notable memorabilia sales in their auction last weekend. A game-worn jersey from Michael Jordan’s rookie season sold for $125,332. The jersey is unsigned, and the provenance is perhaps weaker than that of the signed, game-worn rookie jersey on Collectable, which trades at $193,600 at the time of writing. If you’re wondering what a game-worn and signed Birmingham Barons Jordan jersey goes for, the answer is $30,343. A game-worn and signed Pele Brazil jersey sold for $69,184, and Darren Rovell astutely observes that it illustrates the gap between memorabilia and cards at the highest end of the market. A game-worn Stephen Curry jersey photo matched to four 2012 games sold for $29,372. Otis recently offered a game-worn Kevin Durant Warriors jersey from the Western Conference semifinals for $22,800.
- Sotheby’s announced an upcoming Olympic auction, which will feature two remarkable pairs of sneakers. The first is a pair of track spikes handmade by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, featuring what appear to be prototype logos resembling a Nike swoosh. The estimate is $800,000 - $1,200,000, which would make them the second most expensive sneakers ever sold behind the Yeezy Prototype bought by Rares. The second pair is a pair of signed Converse Fastbreaks worn by Michael Jordan in the 1984 Olympic Trials. A non-Nike pair of game-worn sneakers of Jordan’s are somewhat of a rarity – they’d either have to come from his UNC career or that 1984 Olympics. The estimate is $80,000 - $100,000.
- The Roger Federer Collection, auctioned by Christie’s to benefit the RF Foundation, realized a combined total of £3,429,125. While his status as the GOAT is under threat from Novak Djokovic after his Wimbledon victory, his status as the most beloved tennis player of all time may be strengthening. The high points? Two lots sold for £187,500 each: the outfit from an all time Wimbledon Final victory over Nadal in 2007 and the outfit from Federer’s lone French Open championship victory in 2009. If you wanted a racket of any significance whatsoever from Fed’s career, even from a minor tournament, I hope you had £10,000 ready.
- Julien's Auctions is hosting their Sports Legend Auction this weekend, which features a pretty incredible selection of treasured memorabilia offerings. Among them: a LeBron James high school jersey from his first "Chosen One" Sports Illustrated cover, two game worn, rookie Kobe Bryant uniforms, Zinedine Zidane's jersey from the 1998 World Cup Final, a World Cup worn Diego Maradona jersey, and a 1992 Olympics worn Michael Jordan jersey. I mean, wow. On the topic of the LeBron jersey, it feels similar in theme to the UNC Jordan jersey sold this spring. That jersey, photo-matched to MJ's first Sporting News cover, sold for $1.38 million, largely owing to the rarity of game-worn UNC jerseys. A pair of playoff worn and signed Jordan XI "Bred" sneakers are up for auction as well, with a direct comp on Rally.
- With the Olympics coming up, we're set to see a deluge of Olympic memorabilia hitting auction in the coming weeks, but we doubt we'll see many of these. RR Auctions is selling a silver first place medal from the debut of the modern Olympics: Athens 1896. This marks the third medal from those Games that they've sold, but it's the first winning medal. In that Olympics, first place received silver, second place received bronze, and third place received nothing. Was Willy Wonka running those Olympics? You get nothing! You lose! Good day sir!
- IcV2 and Comichron recently announced that 2020 was the biggest sales year ever for comic and graphic novel sales, up 6% to $1.28B. This figure refers to primary market sales, rather than auction sales of older copies, but still highlights the robust and growing underlying interest in the space.
- An additional three comic buyout offers have come in over the last two weeks on Rally. Thus far, two have been accepted – for Avengers #1 and Journey into Mystery #83. Approval votes remain high, but regret at losing these blue-chip assets has been growing in the community. The result for The Incredible Hulk #1 will be watched closely.
- Sales at the top three auction houses, Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips, have rebounded tremendously in the first half of 2021. ArtTactic reports that auction sales totaled $5.9B in the first six months, up from $1.79B in the first half of 2020 (+230%) and $5.7B in the first half of 2019. Private sales, which flourished on a relative basis as auctions pulled back in 2020, also remain strong at Christie’s, doubling the value and proportion of 2019 at north of $850mm.
Watches & Luxury
- Antiquorum is slated to have their Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces auction in Monaco on July 21st. The auction features countless timepieces expected to fetch in excess of six figures, including a nearly unattainable Patek Philippe Nautilus Green Dial, as well as an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak A-Series that will be very familiar to fractional investors. Rally's piece sold for net proceeds of $103,949. The watches expected to draw the highest bidding are a Rolex Milgauss from circa 1958 and an F.P. Journe “Chronomètre à resonance”, which was limited to 20 pieces.
- Going back to the Julien's auction for a moment, two Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day/Dates are up for sale: one previously owned by Jack Nicklaus, the other by Arnold Palmer. Palmer was the company's first ever official ambassador. His watch is circa 1971, while the one belonging to Nicklaus is circa 1989. Nicklaus was offered a free Rolex in 1967 at a cocktail party, choosing a gold Day/Date on the advice of Gary Player. That watch, which he wore for much of his career, sold at auction in 2019 for $1.2 million.
- Fans of music memorabilia will enjoy the results of "The Marvels of Music" auction from RR Auctions. Prince's handwritten lyrics to "Nothing Compares 2 U" sold for $150,986, while Bob Dylan's handwritten lyrics to "Like a Rolling Stone" (believed to be one of five such manuscripts) sold for $73,944. There are certainly some people out there who would love to see handwritten lyrics fractionalized. A stage-used and signed Eddie Van Halen guitar, not all that dissimilar from the one on Rally, sold for $50,631. The Rally guitar traded down to $59,250 yesterday.
- Sticking with RR Auctions but switching to historical memorabilia, the Revolutionary War centric Fine Autograph and Artifacts auction had some interesting lots. The biggest earner was a Thomas Jefferson letter signed as President, which went for $68,750. Fractional favorites George Washington and Albert Einstein each had letters sell for north of $20k.
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