The rich who bought many and expensive objects were once called collectors. Now they just belong to one more broadly: they are all investors.
It’s not just the fact that they spent the last year putting funds in untested, new companies, some of which have not yet produced product let alone profits. It is that during the pandemic every purchase of luxury goods tended to be called an alternative investment.
Many luxury goods groups did not want to talk to the New York Times about this trend. They didn’t think it was very nice to talk about the $90,000 earrings that were sold off at a time of misery and growing income inequality.
John Demesi, executive chairman of the Estée Lauder Cos. group, confesses that he himself fell into the trap during the pandemic. “I sell wristwatches, I buy watches. It’s crazy. I have no reason to buy a watch. I’m at home on a computer. The time is right in front of me. Why should I look at my wrist? But I want to buy something,” he says.
Rolex Day-Dates, which in 2020 were catching $30,000 on the secondary market, now see their price climbed to $50,000 on a resale site. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus 5980 had a retail price of 85,000, but now it’s hard to find it below $200,000.
Cars are another weakness. In 2020, a 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS was sold for $560,000. Today its price is at $1.2 million.
A pair of chairs from famed Japanese George Nakashima, who in 2019 made about $10,000, in October 2020 were sold for $23,750 at an auction in Chicago. A coffee table by British architect H. Robsjohn Gibbings, whose name is not particularly well known outside the furniture world, was sold for $237,500 in December.
In February a digital work of art with Donald Trump looking down, the grass, covered in words like a loser, was sold for $6.6 million. Dollars. It was a record amount for an NFT at the time. The record was broken two weeks later when Christie’s sold another NFT, Beeple, this time for $69 million. Dollars.