R1m for a handbag? These collectables are among the most valued on auction lots

Knight Frank Research reveals which objects of desire collectors have been investing in

03 July 2020 - 14:03 By AFP Relaxnews
A black Porosus Crocodile Hac Birkin 40 smashed its estimate when it went under hammer during Christie's 'Handbags Online: The Power of Colour' auction in June 2020.
A black Porosus Crocodile Hac Birkin 40 smashed its estimate when it went under hammer during Christie's 'Handbags Online: The Power of Colour' auction in June 2020.
Image: Christie's

Though live auctions are slowly resuming after a long suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic, collectors have continued to acquire luxury collectables in multiple online auctions.

While prospective buyers are increasingly comfortable with the idea of purchasing pedigreed pieces sight unseen, a recent report by Knight Frank Research suggests that collectors prefer to invest their assets in very specific objects of desire:

COLLECTABLE HANDBAGS

Handbags are increasingly being seen as an investment class in their own right, with the market for collectable handbags growing in value by 108% in the past 10 years, and 13% in 2019 alone.

Though bags made by luxury brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton are highly collectable, those made by Hermès attract the highest prices at auction.

A black Porosus Crocodile Hac Birkin 40 nearly doubled its high presale estimate of HK$260k (about R571k) and fetched HK$475k (about R1m) during Christie's Handbags Online: The Power of Colour, which realised a memorable total HK$14.4m (about R32m).

RARE WHISKY

The market for rare whiskies has grown in value the most over the past 10 years (+564%), with Knight Frank Research noting that collectors continue to seek out rare examples from iconic distilleries such as Dalmore, Springbank, Ardbeg and Lagavulin.

While wine has lost some momentum as an investment prospect (+1% in 2019), a bottle of 60-year-old Macallan whisky from 1926 set an auction record for any wine or spirit in October 2019. The coveted piece sold for just under £1.45m (about R30m) during Sotheby's The Ultimate Whisky Collection sale, surpassing its presale estimate between £350k and £450k (about R7m to R10m).

ART 

The art market registered growth of 141% over the past 10 years, and a more modest 5% in the past 12 months. While 2019 was marked by records such as the $91m (about R1.5bn) sale of Jeff Koons' Rabbit, auction houses had to move several of their marquee sales online in reaction to the pandemic.

Artist Jeff Koons poses next to his piece called 'Rabbit'.
Artist Jeff Koons poses next to his piece called 'Rabbit'.
Image: Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images

Last June, Sotheby's made headlines when its marathon sale of contemporary, impressionist and modern art brought in a total of $363.2m (about R6.2bn), with a 93.2% sell-through rate by lot.

The nearly five-hour session was led by Francis Bacon's Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus (1981), which went under the hammer for $84.5m (about R1.4bn) with fees.

CARS

Meanwhile, Knight Frank Research notes that collectors are turning less to classic cars to invest their assets, with the car market falling by 7% in the past 12 months (+194% over the past 10 years).

The sector still continues to attract potential buyers, as testified to by the $2.64m (about R45m) sale of a 2003 Ferrari Enzo during RM Sotheby's recent Driving Into Summer online auction.

*Monetary figures converted into rands have been rounded off.