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#39 - Auction Houses

#39 - Auction Houses

Sir Anthony Van Dyck
Price: $4,080,349 incl bid premium

Rich people love auctions as much as the rest of the world. Name a product and there is an auctioneer that will sell it. Ask people what comes to mind when you say auction and you will hear eBay, perhaps Ritchie Brothers if you come from an Italian construction family or 4-H if you believe chewing grass while riding a tractor is a good day’s work. For the rich, the timeless auction houses of Christie’s and Sotheby’s are the only place to bid on rare items.

The difference between auctions that the wealthy attend and the fast-talking hawkers or electronic auctions that the rest of the world uses may seem as superficial as price but it goes much deeper than that. The rich love exclusive auction houses for the, well exclusivity of it. There is something intensely gratifying for the wealthy to sit in a hushed room surrounded by other sophisticated, educated, cultured and wealthy people. The sound of the gavel and the soothing English accent of the auctioneer make buying rare items with the flash of a numbered paddle worth the 10% to 30% premium that buyers part with as part of the “hammer price”. Yes, that’s right when you pay more than $6M for a little known Picasso, you can expect to give Sotheby’s as much as $1.8M for the privilege of owning it. On top of that, the house takes about 15% from the seller. Imagine that.

If you can get past the sheer volume of commissions you can better understand what bidders are really paying for. It isn’t about buying the art, but rather the peer recognition at cocktail parties and museum galas of your unspoken wealth and ability to pay extraordinary sums for products that will likely end up in a climate controlled vault. Remember, this is a world of exclusivity. Anyone can walk into a gallery in Chelsea to buy art or the local liquor store to buy wine but neither bestows the level of recognition from your peers as purchasing a Château Lafite-Rothschild Vintage 1982 from Christie’s for $186,643. So raise your glasses and toast the rich for their uncanny ability to lose touch with what things really cost.

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#14 - Patek Philippe Watches

#14 - Patek Philippe Watches

Patek Philippe Ref. 5004G
Price: $241,000 

Rich people love luxury watches. Rich people know that anyone can afford a Rolex or a Cartier and that TAG Heuer makes an excellent holiday gift for the gardener. To ensure that you have something in common with rich people, conversational knowledge of Patek Philippe is required. Unbeknownst to the masses, most luxury watches are manual winding movements, a feature greatly appreciated by aficionados. Refer to a quartz crystal and you are sure to be identified as a bus-riding commoner who appreciates the hourly chime feature of your Timex more than Patek’s moon phase complication.

Some of the world’s most expensive watches to cross Sotheby’s auction desks, fetching more than $11 million, have been built by Patek; great news if you prefer a used timepiece. If shiny and new are more intriguing, choose from a catalog of 203 exquisite Patek Phillipe watches. The 5004G is a hallmark of virtuosity and the most complicated model in the Patek line of stopwatches. Features include perpetual calendar, 24-hour display, precision moon phase mechanism and an ingenious rattrapante device. Not surprisingly, the 5004G tracks day, month, date, leap years and is available in white gold, yellow gold, platinum or rose gold with white or black face.

Are the Bugatti payments delaying Patek ownership this quarter yet you still need to impress the wealthy? Infer ownership by speaking of the Patek Philippe Magazine published twice a year exclusively for owners. Offhandedly reference the Calatrava Cross adopted by Patek, formerly the emblem of brave Spanish Knights. Use the French term ‘bienfacture’ or know the story of Henry Graves Jr. With this knowledge in hand, you are en route to meeting a sugar daddy willing to adorn your wrist with Suisse chronographs.

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#3 - Celebrity Homes

#3 - Celebrity Homes

Sudler Sotheby’s Realty
Price: US $2,300,000

Befriending rich people can be difficult even when you live in the same neighborhood. The good news…rich people love to swap stories about the celebrities that have sauntered across their high sheen mahogany flooring. Has Clooney parked his Tesla in your garage, has Warren Buffett joined you for high tea on the family veranda? Subtly hint about the celebrities that have owned, have visited or have worked in your most recent real estate acquisition and build credibility faster than sharing a box of Altadis’ Behike cigars. More impressive still, own homes that have played central roles in iconic American cinematography.

For a paltry $2.3M, a Chicago resident will soon live in the home made famous by the 1986 classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Enjoy hosting the local Ferrari Club meeting in 5,300sq.feet of sleek steel and glass poised above the ravine at 370 Beech St in Highland Park. Naturally, the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California is not included but the stunning garage is the perfect place to showcase your stylish taste in fine automobiles.

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