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All Posts Tagged With: "Collectibles"

The (Very) High End of the Coin Market Needs Feeding

By Doug Winter – RareGoldCoins.com

With less fanfare than in past cycles, the super high end of the art market has suddenly gone ablaze. In the past few months, two iconic works have broken records.

On May 4th, Christie’s sold the Picasso painting “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” for $106.5 million. This painting was owned by the Lasker estate and it was fresh to the market, not having been offered in many decades. I don’t claim to be a Picasso expert (nor have I ever seen this work in person), and my gut tells me that while it was a very nice quality work, it was not considered to be an A+ quality painting, unlike some of the early masterworks painted by Picasso in the early part of the 20th century) that were sold for epic sums last decade.

In February 2010, Sotheby’s garnered considerable attention when they sold Giacometti’s iconic “L’Homme qui Marche I” for $104.3; an all-time record for a sculpture at auction. I personally love Giacometti’s work and though this was an amazing piece of art it was one of five known and it was a challenging, complex sculpture that I think most people just don’t appreciate.

These two sales bring up an interesting question: if a flashy but non-masterpiece Picasso can bring $106.5 million and an iconic but odd sculpture can sell for $104.3 what would fresh, undisputed masterpieces bring in today’s market?

What these two sales have shown is that there is still an incredible amount of wealth in the world and an incredible desire to put this wealth into something tangible like art. This is probably all the more so due to the Greek debt crisis which has impacted European buyers even more than Americans.

These upper market sales have interesting applications to the very high end coin market. Now, obviously, coins don’t sell for $100 million dollars. But there are a number of coins that have brought (or would bring) $1 million or more if they were offered for sale.

It has been a long time since a truly great, truly fresh collection filled with $1 million plus coins came to market. Despite all the amazing coins that have been sold in the last three to five years, just a handful of these were “fresh.”

You’ll notice that I use the expression “fresh” a lot. What exactly does this mean? A coin that has been off the market for ten, 20, 30 or 100 years is “fresh.” This is especially true if it was owned by a specific collector or family and it was not shopped around in the interim. The aforementioned Picasso was fresh to the market as it had hung in the Lasker house since at least the early 1960’s and hadn’t been surreptitiously offered to a few big collectors by sneaky family representatives. (more…)