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Sales of global collectibles are expected to grow to US$692 billion over the next 10 years.

By Karen Hubes
Fri, Jul 1, 2022 2:36pmGrey Clock 3 min

The collectibles market is booming. During the pandemic, folks with old collections dug them out, new collectors came to market, and trading activity and prices across categories from sports memorabilia to fine wines soared.

“I can’t even count the number of people who contacted us during the pandemic who hadn’t touched their collections in more than 10 years,” says Scott English, executive director of the American Philatelic Society in Bellefonte, Pa., who welcomed attention on stamps when four 1918 Inverted Jenny stamps—so-called because they were printed with an upside down airplane—fetched a record US$4.9 million at Sotheby’s last year.

Sales of global collectibles are expected to grow to US$692 billion from $412 billion over the next 10 years, according to Market Decipher, a Canadian market research firm.

For investors, a long view is advisable, says David Savir, CEO of Element Pointe Advisors, a wealth management firm in Miami. “Many collectibles are at values that may not be sustainable for the next two to three years,” he says. “Anyone buying should be holding them for over a decade and not expect to profit in the short term.”

The highest level of trading activity is in sports collectibles, boosted by the entry of sports-related nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which exploded to $1 billion in sales last year—bigger than the entire 2020 NFT market—and are expected to reach $2 billion this year, according to the London-based consultancy Deloitte.

The overall NFT market surged to $24.9 billion last year, including digital creations from high-end fine art to collectibles. Sales of popular collectible series haven’t waned: In March, sales of Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks hit $257 million and $81 million, respectively, according to CryptoSlam, an aggregator of NFT data.

Tangible sports memorabilia aren’t taking a back seat to NFTs: Sales in the traditional $4 billion arena have been breaking records. Last year, a Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic rookie NBA trading card sold for $4.6 million—the most fetched for a basketball card—and a 1952 Mickey Mantle card hit a record for baseball cards, at $5.2 million.

For classic cars, the first quarter of each year is when three of the biggest car auctions take place, says Juan Calle, co-founder and CEO of Classic.com, a site that tracks car market data. This year’s quarter closed with a total sales volume of $1.3 billion, double the same period last year, Calle says.

While other categories have less practical value, they can be attractive diversifiers for investment portfolios.

Consider fine wine’s low correlation to the S&P 500: just 0.3, which is lower than gold, real estate, or any traditional portfolio-balancing asset class, says Anthony Zhang, co-founder and CEO of Vinovest, which runs a portfolio of 500,000 collectible wine bottles stored in custom-built warehouses around the world. “We’ve seen a big uptick in interest from people who you wouldn’t traditionally think of as wine enthusiasts,” he says.

The wine market tends to shrug off factors that send stocks reeling, but has other sensitivities, such as tariffs and even gift-giving policies in authoritarian nations. When China banned gifts to government employees in 2011, popular Bordeaux wine values plummeted, says Robbie Stevens, Americas Territory Manager for London-based Liv-ex, a global marketplace for fine wine.

The broad Liv-ex 1000 index was up 19% in 2021, driven primarily by the popularity of Champagne and Burgundy. In the 12 months through March, Liv-ex’s index for Champagne was up 47.8%, and for Burgundy, 36.8%.

But no category is immune to broad economic trends, says financial advisor Savir. “Collectibles are more vulnerable to price declines in a recession than other assets, given the nonessential nature of many of them.”

This article appeared in the June 2022 issue of Penta magazine.


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Milestone birthdays and anniversaries, weddings, and graduations are momentous life occasions that some like to mark with large and elaborate celebrations.

And the deep-pocketed set are still in catch-up mode after a party-throwing standstill during the pandemic that went on for many months during the height of the lockdowns and social distancing. Bashes since then have become ever more extravagant and experiential—mere get-togethers, they’re not.

Hosts are also seeking any excuse to throw an event and having parties with the same “wow” factor for far less significant reasons, or for micro-occasions as they’re called, and even “just because,” according to luxury event planners who work with this elite set.

Colin Cowie, a planner based in New York and Miami who regularly orchestrates multimillion-dollar gatherings and was behind Jennifer Lopez’s and Ben Affleck’s wedding, calls it the “event revolution.”

“Large-scale events have become the norm,” Cowie says. “The wealthy, who are used to celebrating their life moments in a big way couldn’t do anything during the pandemic and are now going all out for anything they host.”

His company, Colin Cowie Lifestyle, plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid and has a lineup booked for the next two years. An example includes an upcoming million-dollar dinner party in the Hamptons simply to socialise with friends. It’s an affair with free-flowing Dom Perignon, centre-cut filet mignons, and unlimited caviar.

Colin Cowie Lifestyle plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid
Calen Rose

Other high-end planners also attribute the rise of over-the-top celebrations to a “live life to the fullest” attitude that’s become prevalent in the last few years. But they say that these parties aren’t necessarily about spending more than before—rather, they’re increasingly creative, thoughtful, and, with respect to weddings, longer.

Lynn Easton, a Charleston-based planner, says that her typical wedding used to span two days and entailed a rehearsal dinner plus the wedding itself. “Now, it’s a five-day bonanza with events like a groomsman lunch,” Easton says.

Easton also plans glitzy milestone birthdays such as one for a 60th where the host flew 60 friends and family to a private island. Dinners were multi-hour affairs in various locations around the isle with the showpiece being a five-course meal where the food was presented on dishes that were hand-carved in ice.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, based in New York and Miami, says that, in a new precedent, the weddings she’s tapped to design kick off with striking welcome meals. She recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden. Elements included potted herbs, lemon trees, vintage olive oil cans, ceramic plates, and table cards presented with palm leaves in limoncello cans.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden.
Aletiza Photo

Pashmina shawls hung from chairs to keep guests warm, and freshly baked pizzas and Aperol spritzes were in ready supply throughout the evening.

Stacy Teckin, the groom’s mother, hosted the party with her husband, Ian, and says she sought to pull off a dinner that made an impression on their guests. “The wedding was delayed because of Covid, and now that we had the chance to celebrate, we wanted to go all out,” Teckin says. “I’m not sure we would have done that before.”

In another example, acclaimed planner Norma Cohen threw a wild safari-themed bar mitzvah for a client.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon
Norma Cohen Productions

The memorable occasion transpired at Spring Studios in downtown Manhattan and saw 400 guests be transported to the African plains: Details included mammoth replicas of wildlife such as giraffes and elephants, servers in safari themed attire, and entertainment dressed like giraffes. The event was one of several over-the-top parties Cohen’s arranged recently.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon, one of the city’s most luxurious properties, also ranks high in Cohen’s memory.

Then there’s a destination party in London that Cohen planned for a client who was turning 40. It as a six-day affair with dinners at swanky spots such as Cipriani, the Arts Club, and Cecconi’s at Soho House. The finale was Lancaster House, a mansion in St. James, where guests were entertained by cabaret dancers from the famed Ibiza club Lio Ibiza and feasted on prime rib and lamb chops and imbibed on Krug champagne.

“People today don’t want to host events,” Cohen says. “They want experiences that take you away to a different place and make you forget that the real world exists.”