Investing in Luxury Collectibles Is Lucrative…and Easy

The stock market is in a slump, largely due to seasonality, hawkish monetary policy, and elevated bond yields. Both August and September were dismal months for equities and October has gotten off to a weak start as well.

We’re also witnessing a spike in volatility, due to geopolitical strife. The Middle East is mired in its worst outbreak of violence since the Yom Kippur War in mid-October 1973. The brutal Russia-Ukraine war rages on, with Russian President Vladimir Putin continuing to make oblique nuclear threats.

Amid this market turmoil, now’s the time to consider collectibles such as classic cars, rare coins, stamps, wine, art, antique furniture, designer handbags, sports memorabilia, comics, posters….you name it. These alternative investments boast inherent value and they’ve generally shown steady growth in value, regardless of the stock market’s ups and downs.

Looking for alternative investments? Here’s how to make money in the finer things of life.

Rat Pack redux…

I turn your attention to sunny Palm Springs, California, where my wife Carole and I vacation every year during the city’s annual “Modernism Week.” The next Modernism event takes place this year October 19-22. We plan to be there.

During their heyday, entertainers such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin owned stylish modernistic homes in the mountains overlooking the desert. In fact, on our annual sojourns to Palm Springs, the missus and I always make a point of taking a tour of the estate once inhabited by the Chairman of the Board, located high in the San Jacinto Mountains.

One evening during a past visit, while enjoying adult beverages at sunset in the more modest Palm Springs home of a local friend, he casually mentioned to me: “See that authentic 1950s Eames lounge chair and ottoman you’re sprawling in? I bought it two years ago for $4,000; I could now sell it for at least $7,000.”

That represents a 75% return, underscoring the fact that collectibles such as antique furniture can serve as investment havens in these fraught times.

Antique cars also can appreciate exponentially. Pictured below is yours truly, with a fully restored 1957 Cadillac Eldorado.

The car is a Harley Earl–designed masterpiece. My aforementioned affluent friend in Palm Springs, who owns the car, once gave me the privilege of driving it. The car’s appraised value is $250,000. (I drove it carefully!) In 1957, the list price of that Eldorado was about $5,000.

Consider the iconic 1968 Ford Mustang GT driven by the King of Cool, Mr. Steve McQueen, in the 1968 cop thriller Bullitt.

The dark green ’68 Mustang wildly careened on the streets of San Francisco in what’s considered to be the greatest cinematic car chase of all time. The Mustang recently sold at auction for $3,740,000. The owner’s father had bought the car in 1974 for $3,500.

In addition to movies, I’m also a fan of Looney Tunes cartoons. Every year in Palm Springs, I bump into the folks at Linda Jones Enterprises. The firm sells cartoon “cels” to investors.

In 1977, Linda Jones Clough, daughter of famed Warner Bros. director Chuck Jones, got a license from Warner Bros. to create and distribute limited edition cel art drawn by her father.

“We’ve noticed a resurgent animation art market and find that people are avidly seeking it out. There’s been a new interest in the production drawings, storyboards and other ephemera from the animated films, not just cel art,” Craig Kausen, president of Linda Jones Enterprises and Chuck Jones’ grandson explained to me.

Wily investing…

Auction records are being set for drawings, cels, and other production art, such as a concept drawing of Wile E. Coyote by Chuck Jones created in the mid-1950s that sold at Heritage Auctions recently for $9,500, a work that you could have acquired six months previously for about half the price.

Estimating the returns from such assets, after costs, can be difficult. Indices covering collectibles aren’t as comprehensive as stock funds. If collectibles are bought and sold at auction, you also have to worry about transaction costs that can reach as high as 40%.

Keep in mind, though, that these assets are usually held for several decades. Indeed, they tend to get handed down to generations as heirlooms.

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Favorable tax treatment is a big plus. Collectibles such as fine art, high-end wine, antique furniture, and stamps generate no income stream and incur tax only when they’re sold.

There’s a growing appetite overseas for fine and decorative art, jewelry and collectibles. As incomes rise in emerging markets, individuals are looking for luxuries on which to spend their disposable income. China is the main growth driver of the global collectibles market.

Demand is robust from Western collectors as well. In one of the world’s biggest private art deals, hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin recently shelled out $500 million for a pair of abstract paintings by Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you run out and buy individual paintings by the likes of Pollock and de Kooning. But you can still profit from the thriving market in art and collectibles, with a modest budget.

Rare coins are especially appealing now. They offer a mix of historical fascination with robust upside potential. Rare coins are among the world’s oldest collectibles. Their value is closely tied to the fluctuations of gold and silver, making them a superb hedge against inflation.

Rare gold coins occupy a special niche among gold-related investments. Their counterparts, rare silver coins, make up a smaller but also enticing market.

Before investing in any collectible, hire a certified appraiser to make sure you’re getting the real deal. They’re easy to find on the Internet and their fees are modest.

The upshot: If you’re looking for capital appreciation combined with emotional gratification, collectibles could be the route for you.

P.S. In the meantime, for a steady source of income amid these uncertain times, consider the advice of my colleague, Jim Pearce.

Jim Pearce is the chief investment strategist of our flagship publication, Personal Finance. Jim has unearthed a once “secret” income power play that’s giving everyday investors the opportunity to collect huge payouts, regardless of Fed policy or the gyrations of the markets. To claim your share, click here.

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This article originally appeared on Investing Daily.