GIVING THANKS TO THE PAST
“We are passionate about the past….”. That’s the first part of our slogan. Just what makes us passionate is something we have thought about this past week – as we celebrate this season of Thanksgiving and get ready for the holidays ahead.
While we are excited every day by the work we do, there have been a few things happening on the world plain that have stood out. The most recent is the auction of the daVinci “Salvatore Mundi”. At over $450 million dollars – yes, million, it was a record holder. The previous record of $110.5 million for the Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 skull painting seems like a pale and distant memory.
With an as yet unidentified buyer, we don’t know what the future of the daVinci will be – will it be sent on tour – donated or lent to a museum – flipped! – or sit in storage as just so much of an investment asset? Many in the art world might even question the “beauty” of either the Basquiat or the daVinci – and have. Perhaps the most important message to the average person is that the collection of fine art, antiquities, sculpture and unique collectibles can – and should – be part of a full investment portfolio. Sometimes items can appreciate in value in very short order – just a few years in the case of comics – particularly those that introduce a new character or mark the end of one.
As we think of advice to give our millennials about why they should save for the future – it’s prudent to give them some creative suggestions on how. With interest rates maddeningly low and stock market risks best left for the professional manager, and pensions rarer than a Picasso at a flea market, becoming educated on collecting items that increase in value on the secondary market, we believe, should be part of a creative and forward stepping investment strategy. Starting young will only determine even better outcomes.
Spider-Man! At our October toy and comic auction, a scarce copy of Marvel Comics Amazing Fantasy #15 from August 1962 – with a CBCS Gold Label 2.5 grading – marking the first appearance of Spider-Man in a comic book and signed by the legendary artist-illustrator Stan Lee – sold for $13,750. This noteworthy event was written up in the recent issue of Live Auctioneers. They also noted our sets of Hasbro G.I. Joe Action Pilot dress uniform equipment sets, which included a dress jacket, dress pants and dress shirt, in little plastic and cardboard packets going for over $2,600. As a pop culture, toy and comic enthusiast it’s always gleeful to see these items go for prices like this – right up there with fine art and antiques. How much is something worth? What someone is willing to pay for it.
As we wax a little melancholy at this time of thanks, we have much to be grateful for. We are grateful for the trust instilled to us when people welcome us into their homes to review and appraise the items they have, some generational keepsakes, others just acquired in one way or another. We are respectful that while something might not be valuable to resell right now or less valuable than the owner thought, the real value might be just in giving the owner information and appreciation for its worth and history. We are happy to do that and hopefully one day that or another item may surface in the loving care of our auction house. When it’s time to help a family liquidate, downsize, or even generate funds, we are grateful when those calls come to us and one’s possessions are passed into our care.