21 October 2009
The financial crisis of 2007 was one of the most serious credit crunches faced by the world. However, toys were selling very well at auctions across America. ...
The ‘Big Bang’ heard on Wall Street last October sent American investors scrambling to cash out their deflated retirement nest eggs after stocks suffered their worst decline since the now-infamous Black Monday of October 1987. In the months following the crash, as beaten-up stocks languished in the financial sector’s basement, every other business and industrial component within the US economy followed suit and plunged into the deep end. As they say, misery loves company.
However, as high-street auctioneers bemoaned the sudden lack of interest in formerly invincible categories of fine art and antiques, an anomaly surfaced. Toys were still selling very well at auction and even setting record prices. The big financial publications got wind of it and began to ring toy auctioneers to ask, ‘Why toys?’
I decided to conduct my own research and spoke with eight of the top toy auctioneers in the United States to get their thoughts on the subject.
A suitable starting point was Bertoia Auctions, the company that knocked down a spectacular $4.2 million (£2.58 million) in March with Part I of the Donald Kaufman collection. ‘The Kaufman collection, which set a house record for us, was our own contribution as an economic stimulus package,’ gallery associate Rich Bertoia joked. ‘What made Don’s collection so exciting was that, in addition to all the rare American toys, he had a killer European car collection that rivaled any collection in Europe. He didn’t cherry-pick prior to the auction, and all the collectors knew it. Also, for the first time in decades, the most formidable bidder of all time, Don Kaufman himself, was not going to be competing. So, instead of the 10 top buyers getting all the best pieces, 30 bidders got the best pieces. One of them told me: “It was a pleasure not to see his paddle in the air!” In the end, it was the same story as always – rarity and condition prevailed. Wall Street isn’t going to stop collectors from buying toys that come along once in a lifetime.’
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