You don’t have to be a petrolhead or coin nerd to enjoy the benefits from diversification that passion investments can bring
The Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI) index for classic cars is currently showing a 10-year price rise of more than 250 percent, which works out at an annual growth of about 13 percent—making it the most profitable class of passion investment.
HAGI, which is an independent investment-research house and think tank, also publishes sub-indices for Ferrari and Porsche, which are the most collectible classic cars. Ferrari fans will be pleased to note that the 10-year trend shows the Italian marque slightly outperforming its German rival—and one of the most notable auction results of 2017 was the sale of a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder LWB for US$18 million through RM Sotheby’s.
On the face of it, buying real works of art is a great way to earn returns while enjoying the paintings hanging on your wall. But buying art for investment is not the same as buying art that you love—especially if your tastes are particularly niche.
Dedicated art funds specialise in buying and selling works that offer a good balance of risk and reward, and some funds even allow investors to borrow works that are in the portfolio. In the short term, art prices can be volatile as certain genres fall in and out of favour with collectors.
For example, the sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi to a Saudi prince for a record US$450 million in 2017 is expected to help rekindle interest in great works from the old masters. But in the long run, art tends to perform consistently well: the average value of art sold at auction rose by 78 percent during the past decade, according to data from Art Market Research.
The finest wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux are particular favourites among Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese investors, and you don’t have to be a wine lover to benefit from the free-flowing returns.
The Liv-ex Fine Wine 1000 index tracks prices for the top wines from France and around the world. After remaining flat from 2011 to 2015, since the start of 2016 it has risen by about 36 percent. A bottle of Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti smashed all-time records when it sold for US$558,000 at a recent Sotheby’s sale in New York.
Cult Wines, a wine investment company with an office in Hong Kong, argues that the price history of the Liv-ex 1000 shows how wine can be good for your portfolio, particularly when stock markets are collapsing.
The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index shows jewellery providing a return of 138 percent during the past 10 years. With much lower costs associated with transport, storage and maintenance, jewellery can offer even better real returns than some other passion assets, such as cars or wine.
Price growth has been fairly subdued recently, but stunning auction results have included the record HK$553 million paid in 2017 by Chow Tai Fook for the Pink Star, a 59.6-carat pink diamond, at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.
At a forthcoming Christie’s Hong Kong sale The Peacock Necklace, made with 21 rare Kashmir sapphires, is expected to fetch between HK$95 million and HK$120m.