The launch of ebay and carousell (similar to Craiglist in the Singapore context) has made cleaning out my cupboard much easier. But you might be selling things on the cheap. Don’t believe me then look at Alice Cooper who bought something was he was drunk and it turned out to be worth more than it was. He apparently forgot he owned a silkscreen of an electric chair by his friend Andy Warhol that could now be worth several million dollars. The forgotten work has spent the best part of the last 40 years in a storage space, and was only rediscovered four years ago, when Alice’s mother found it “rolled up in a tube” in the locker. The work has never been stretched on a frame.
According to a report in The Guardian by the British writer Edward Helmore, Cooper’s then-girlfriend organized the purchase of the work, a red Little Electric Chair silkscreen, from Warhol’s Death and Disaster series, for $2,500 in the early ’70s. However, amid the chaos of his rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, Cooper forgot all about the purchase, and was shortly afterward admitted to a psychiatric hospital, according to his manager.
Upon learning that the top price paid for a Little Electric Chair was $11.6 million, at Christie’s in November 2015 for a green version dated 1964, Cooper said he didn’t want anything of such value in his house and put it back into storage. Richard Polsky, a Warhol expert, said he believes the canvas dates to 1964 or 1965 and should be worth above that previous price paid.
With the introduction of e-commerce, items once believed to be rare were made available en masse. And with previous generations of collectors in a position to divest their prized possessions, the forces of supply and demand may have never had a more profound impact on collecting.Here are a couple of tips to follow so that you don’t throw “money into the trash”.
1. Items that are either one-of-a-kind, handmade by a skilled artist or craftsperson or made in limited quantities will always be in demand. For instance, curating an art collection of living artists can be a good investment strategy. But not always. So pair this rule with the following three points: 1) Buy the art to enjoy it. 2.) Don’t invest more than you’re comfortable losing. 3.) Diversify.
2. Items made of high-quality materials by notable firms will always have an audience. Names like Hermès, Chanel, Tiffany and Cartier get collectors to pay closer attention. They’re like buying blue-chip stocks. These firms have stood the test of time and shown they have what it takes to maintain consumer interest, even if that means reinventing themselves. The items won’t necessarily appreciate in value, but they are much less likely to depreciate if kept in good condition.
3. Other collectibles to consider are ones that remind us of our youth. Once a generation reaches middle age with disposable income (usually older than 35), they tend to collect objects that remind them of their yesteryears. This transcends categories and applies to toys, books and even vehicles. For instance, in recent years, He-Man action figures from the 1980s have appreciated to values exceeding even earlier generations of toys such as G.I. Joe figures from the 1960s. Remember the Game N Watch in my previous post? Those go for a fair penny as well. But the timing on the sale of these types of objects is critical. A rule of thumb: consider selling nostalgia items 25 to 35 years after they originally became popular. It’s important to note that the earliest editions —produced in limited quantities before the category became popular enough to justify increased production — command the highest prices.
4. Consider holding onto items connected to unique events or people in history but that were intended to be discarded. These are often referred to as ephemera. The key here is that the item must be one-of-a-kind or hard to come by.For example, many people held onto newspapers reporting the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the moon landing, so they’re not rare and therefore not valuable. But if you held onto an early promotional poster for The Rolling Stones from the same timeframe, you would have more than enough to pay for a nice vacation after selling it.
5. Another category to consider: objects that have a tangible value based on what they’re made of. Precious metals such as silver, gold, and platinum all have an associated market value, which is readily identifiable and allows for immediate liquidity. Antique or high-quality examples of these objects can often have values worth two to 10 times the value of the precious metal itself or even more. But profiting from less desirable, and more common, examples — such as bullion coins or damaged serving pieces — depends on the current price of the metal. Silver, for instance, is currently worth about 1/3 what it was in 2011, but that’s still about three times as much as in 2001.
So what would I recommend keeping that might be worth more money down the road? Well, nothing really. You should only hold onto something if you love it, use it and have a place in your home for it. Be careful not to become too hung up on hanging onto collectibles in the hopes they might go up in value, especially if you don’t have the space for them. Most collectibles fall out of favor in time.My advice: be cautious about holding onto items which create clutter and cost money to store and care for, coupled with no guarantees. And please please stop hoarding!
Interesting reads and sources: