If the term “collectible” conjures up ideas of chintzy porcelain, bottle tops, or, even worse, Beanie Babies, now is the time to re-evaluate. Because
buying at the top end of the collectibles market offers considerable investment potential. It’s a concept increasing numbers of investors around the
world are embracing, as they seek greater diversity for their portfolios in these tricky economic times.
Here’s five that could be timely investments this year – and not a Beanie Baby in sight!
1) The BeatlesCan it really be 50 years ago that the Beatles were in their pomp? Their popularity endures as each new generation embraces their talent and legacy – just look at the 1 million Beatles tourists who flock to the band’s home town of Liverpool each year, or the 2 million tracks that were downloaded within the first week of the Beatles appearing on iTunes, in 2010.
It helps explain why photographs signed by all four Beatles were up in value by 13.4% per annum between 2000 and 2012, according to the PFC40 Autograph Index, and why George Harrison’s leather jacket made $178,000 at auction just this December.
And these strong figures could be set for a further boost over the coming years. As we move through this decade a steady stream of Beatles 50th anniversaries will be taking place, including the release of their first album, Please Please Me, which will be celebrated on March 22 of this year. These anniversaries will further propel the Beatles to the forefront of the public’s mind and make their memorabilia that much more in demand. This is great news for those entering the market now, who can capitalize on the likely corresponding surge in prices.
2) Royal family memorabiliaIt surprises many but the current royal family offers plenty of options for memorabilia investors. We’re not talking tea towels or commemorative plates here - it’s the pieces that have a personal connection to the royal family that offer the investment potential.
Two signed letters from Elizabeth II auctioned for a combined $7,400 in 2011, a slice of cake from the wedding of William and Kate made a world record $3,089 at PFC Auctions in 2012, while Princess Diana’s back-up pair of bridal shoes achieved $56,600 in 2011.
Indeed Princess Diana is perhaps the most attractive royal investment around. Signed photos of Diana grew in value by 17.8% per annum between 2000 and 2012 according to the PFC40 Autograph Index, such is the enduring affection for the princess. And importantly for those taking the long-term view, Diana is unlikely to fade from the memory anytime soon – she is, after all, the former wife of the next king and the mother of the second heir to the throne.
The royal wedding in 2011, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the imminent arrival of a royal baby have helped increase the profile of Britain’s most famous family around the globe and enhance the public’s affection for them. This can only increase demand for the leading pieces of royal memorabilia, pushing prices higher.
3) Movie memorabiliaA major market mover in the past two years is movie memorabilia. The growth in nostalgia for classic cinema is greatly responsible for the trend.
Costumes worn by some of the silver screen’s iconic leading ladies are at the top of the market. Marilyn Monroe’s “subway scene” dress from The Seven year Itch sold for a movie memorabilia record of $5.6 million in 2011, while the only dress used by Judy Garland on-screen in The Wizard of Oz auctioned for $480,000 in November. It had last changed hands in 1981 for just $2,000, representing an increase of 19.3% per annum.
And then there’s Hollywood heartthrob James Dean. His is the most valuable signature on the PFC40 Autograph Index, having risen by 19.8% per annum since 2000.
4) John F KennedyJFK memorabilia has proved incredibly popular over recent years, particularly with the wealthy baby boomer demographic, many of whom remember the president fondly.
Kennedy’s last autograph, signed on the morning of his death, made $38,837 at a US auction in 2009, while five X-rays of the president’s pelvis realized $28,125 in 2010, more than quadrupling their $6,000 estimate.
Yet if you’re thinking of tapping into the market, you may wish to act quickly. November 22, 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of his assassination, an event that remains clouded in mystery. The anticipated media attention surrounding the event is expected to bring a swathe of new buyers into the JFK memorabilia market. And where there’s growing demand coupled with capped supply, prices can only rise.
5) Classic carsSome say classic cars are there to be driven, not to be sat in the garage, appreciating in value. Yet perhaps classic cars are the essence of the collectibles market: items that can be enjoyed yet still be sold on for a potential profit in years to come – although wine and cigars would clearly be exceptions.
This January’s famous Scottsdale auctions in Arizona, which saw all the top auction houses conducting sales, witnessed a 22% increase in values on 2012. It’s easy to see why. The Hagerty Blue Chip classic car index, which tracks the values of 25 of the most sought after post-war cars, was up 13.4% between December 2011 and December 2012. These figures are backed by the HAGI Top 50 index, which witnessed values rise by 16.1% for the leading marques in 2012, with Ferrari and Porsche leading the way - up 21.0% and 19.7% respectively over the 12 months. A Ferrari 250 GTO provided the top lot of the year in February, with a $32 million showing.