Classic car prices skid, diamonds shine

The super-rich have seen their jewellery, fine wine and musical instrument collections jump in value again but the Old Master paintings and garages full of classic cars have been a bit of a drag, according to new figures.

Now in its twelfth year, blue-blooded UK bank Coutts’ ‘passion’ index of the finest things in life returned to positive territory in 2016 after a dip in 2015.

It came thanks to 16.4% and 11.6% rises in instrument and jewellery prices, a near 10% jump in wines, a 6.7% rise in watch prices and a 5.3 % gain for coins where gains since 2005 hit 225%.

There were some strains for the ultra-wealthy however.

The index’s overall 1.2% rise was well below its yearly average of 5.3%. For the first time in a decade, it was also overtaken by MSCI’s all world stocks index in terms of total, cost-adjusted gains since 2005.

A combination of Brexit, tax changes and frothy price worries saw London’s “billionaire”, valued at more than £10 million ($ NZ18 million), properties drop 7.5%. And even though New York prices jumped 20%, globally the category only managed a 1.8% overall rise.

Coutts Managing Director Mohammad Syed said it could be a similar story this year.

“Billionaire property looks like it is holding its value in 2017 but there are a range of headwinds which make the environment challenging such as the potential impact on Sterling due to Brexit uncertainty and the recent increases in Stamp Duty.”

Classic cars such as Ferraris, Aston Martins, Jaguars and Porsches, whose prices have risen more than 332% and more than any other category since 2005, also went into reverse.

They dropped 10.4% though values for extremely sought after models remains strong.

A rare 1961 SWB California Spider Ferrari 250 GT found in a barn fetched a 250 GT record of $ US18.15 million (NZ$ 25.34 million) last year and last month a new record was set for a British car when a 1950’s Aston Martin DBR1 sold for $ US22.55 million.

Fine art prices fell between 4.3% and 7.9% depending on the style last year.

Since the financial crisis Old Master and 19th Century Art has been the worst performers on the Coutts index by some margin, with prices down by more than 40% on a cost-adjusted return basis.

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