Oscar Wilde signed photo investment story
"I've never seen one of these before..."
A couple of weeks ago I wrote to you to highlight how hot the market is for signed photographs.
But not any old signed photographs...
We were talking about iconic images of iconic figures.
I explained how a client of ours had made a 112.5% return by investing in this iconic signed image of Oscar Wilde from Paul Fraser Collectibles, and then selling through auction less than 12 months later.
The photo was special as it was one of very few known to exist.
Since then the market has seen more activity.
Just last week another iconic signed image sold at auction.
Estimated at $20,000-$30,000, this signed photograph of notorious outlaw Jesse James sold for almost double the estimate at $51,240.
Incidentally James was killed by a member of his own gang in 1882 in return for a $10,000 reward. I imagine he'd find it amusing his signed photo is now worth 5 times as much.
The photo was bought by an anonymous investor. We think he got a great deal as this photo is unique.
Again it shows the benefit of collecting items others aspire to own.
Why unique items prosper...
When items like this head to auction anything can happen. It's summed up in the old phrase: "It only takes two people to make an auction".
This market really started to move in 2009 when one of the world's biggest auctioneers sold an iconic signed image.
At the time I was speaking to one of the Directors of the company and he described the item as "the most significant highlight" of his career.
High praise indeed, and it shows the high esteem in which these iconic signed photos are held.
The "most significant highlight" of his career turned out to be a signed photo of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out which sold for $74,324. You've probably seen it before, it's a famous picture.
Einstein signed photos are rare as hens teeth.
In the last year we have sold a dozen or so Einstein signed letters.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of overseeing the sale of "The Einstein Correspondence Collection". The collection comprised an archive of letters where Einstein discussed his various scientific theories; it sold for over £200,000 ($300,000).
Yet I've never had the opportunity to handle a signed photo of the great man. Not a genuine one at least; I've seen plenty of poor forgeries.
Our own PFC40 Autograph Index shows an Einstein handwritten signed letter has increased in value by 242.9% in the last 10 years as more collectors have entered the market.
We don't even list Einstein signed photos in the index, they are that rare that few ever appear on the market.
I'm excited to say we now have one in stock...
This is an iconic image. In fact, so much so that it's probably the mental image you have when you think of Albert Einstein.
As far as we're concerned this signed photo is on a par with the Oscar Wilde signed photo that doubled in value within a year showing our client a 112.5% return.