Collectible prices are exploding! The famed 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card sold for 5.2 million earlier this year, Superman and Batman first appearance in comic books sold for over 7 figures. Bored Apes are being sold at Sotheby’s for close to $30 million dollars. People are shelling out hundreds of thousands for JPEG rocks. What is going on here?
The world has changed drastically from the pandemic. In addition to the many changes globally, people have resorted to collecting things. Here are four main reasons that people have returned to collecting; many of them have to do with our new online personas and the new influencer culture.
The United States Federal Reserve Bank has set interest rates close to zero. While the macroeconomic implications are outside the scope of this blog post, it basically means that this newfound cheap money (since it costs close to zero to borrow) is driving up the prices of basic goods, otherwise known as inflation. Because of this, many are turning toward “hard” assets like real estate to protect against inflation, since holding dollars will just lose value. One of these hard assets is the collectibles market.
In addition to a hedge on inflation, collectibles also offer a return that is unique. In theory, a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card will never ever again be produced. Thus as time moves forward and more cards are lost, destroyed, or damaged, the existing cards become more scarce and thus drives the value up even higher.
Don’t underestimate nostalgia. We’re seeing a resurgence of it from remakes of our favorite 80s movies and television shows to fashion, video games, and art. There’s a reason why crypto punks’ 8-bit design are so popular. The people that grew up in the 80s collecting cards, comics, and art rediscovered this love and passion during the pandemic and now have a wallet full of disposable income.
Actor Rob Gough, the buyer of the 5.2 million Mickey Mantle card, “… always dreamt of owning a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle since I was a kid collecting cards. It’s the Mona Lisa of sports cards…”
Influencers know a lot about how online status works. While follower count is one metric, not everyone has enough time or wherewithal to be able to grow a following on social media. In order to stand out and feel special, some influencers love to show off something, whether it’s a vacation on a remote island or an adventure in a big exotic city, or a collectible that is rare and special, that everyone following knows your clout.
Previously, we mentioned how the digital landscape is making it hard to know the status of many unique collectibles like art, and so many are moving toward editioned collectibles like cards, comics, and prints and multiples to make it easy for their followers who have varied knowledge. Steph Curry recently got into the game changing his profile picture into the Bored Ape NFT he recently bought for 55 ETH (or ~$180K when he bought it).
Ryan Kaji made close to $30 million dollars opening up toys on YouTube. Now influencers are using that same excitement and anticipation to open up unopened wax packs of Pokemon or vintage sports cards packs. And it’s a big business. Here’s a video for example of an unboxing of a $400K box of Pokemon. If you ever collected cards of any type, the unboxing videos are strangely calming yet exciting.
In the age of abundance people want to grab items that are rare, for financial reasons, but also for status and entertainment purposes. As the real world slowly moves online, collectibles are a fast way for influencers and celebrities to quickly demonstrate their clout and credibility. Continue to see an explosion in this industry in the years to come. What do you collect? Have you been able to grab the things you want in this highly competitive market? Let us know by dropping us an email!