Around this time I always make a few predictions for the rare collectibles market in the coming year.
But this year I'm doing things a little differently.
I'll be giving you my top tips for 2023 in a series of emails throughout January.
In each case I'll go into further detail about why I'm tipping that market for a strong year ahead.
And after remarkable winter World Cup, it only seems fitting to start in one place...
Football. The beautiful game.
2022 was the year that football memorabilia truly hit the big time.
When Diego Maradona's 1986 World Cup Argentina jersey sold at Sotheby's in May for $8.93 million, it was a major turning point for the market.
It set a new record for a game-worn sports jersey; a result that woke many people up to the value of historic football memorabilia.
And it marked a significant change in a sports market previously dominated by baseball, basketball and U.S collectors.
Football's global reach of 3.5 billions fans has created a generation of passionate, wealthy collectors across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
So I believe that trend will continue in 2023 with further high-profile sales.
There may not be another result on the same level as the Maradona jersey.
But the new attention focused on football memorabilia should help increase prices across the category at every level.
And in particular, there are three players I'd like to focus on.
The legendary Pele, one of the greatest sporting icons of the 20th century.
When it comes to individual players, it's impossible to look past Pelé.
His passing last week at the age of 82 marked a sad moment for football fans of every generation.
But it gave us an opportunity to look back at his genius. It will only further cement his legacy as one of the greatest athletes in history.
And as with the death of any major historic or cultural figure, it will also spark a big interest amongst collectors.
Because Pelé's autograph is one that collectors in every field - not just football - want to own.
The signs of significant growth were already there back in February 2022, when a highly rare 1958 Pelé rookie card sold for $1.3 million.
It was the first football card in history to pass the $1 million mark - a major milestone for any collecting category.
And I expect the value of his memorabilia to increase throughout 2023 and beyond.
In some cases I think pieces sold over the past 20 years will reappear on the market, and achieve significantly higher results.
For example, back in 2002 the iconic yellow Brazil jersey Pelé wore to victory in the 1970 World Cup Final sold for $222,400.
It was a record price for any football jersey, and it stood for 20 years.
But if that same Pelé jersey came to auction again today, I'd expect it to fetch ten times that amount.
In 2016 his World Cup winner's medal from the same tournament sold for $427,000. Just seven years on, I believe it would also now sell for a much greater sum.
Pelé comfortably stands alongside the likes of Muhammad Ali as an icon who truly transcends sport. Such special athletes are few and far between.
And when you see Ali's 'Rumble in the Jungle' title belt selling for more than $6 million, as it did in July last year, you realize the market for Pelé memorabilia may just be getting started.
Lionel Messi has won every honour possible, and is regarded as the finest player in football history.
And then there's Lionel Messi, now regarded by many as the finest football player of all-time.
The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner had already achieved every honour possible in the modern game, with the exception of lifting the World Cup.
And when he finally did so in December, his legacy amongst the pantheon of greats was confirmed.
Again, 2022 saw a significant rise in his memorabilia prices. For example:
In 2019 the boots in which Messi scored his 500th goal for Barcelona – a winner in the 2017 'El Clásico' game Real Madrid – sold for $10,240.
But in April 2022, the jersey he wore during the same match sold for $450,000.
It was a remarkable price for a non-international jersey worn just five years previously. More than twice as much as Pelé's 1970 Brazil jersey.
And it showed collectors now seriously value memorabilia from the modern game, as well as historic pieces.
Then in December 2022 a rare 2014 Messi trading card sold for $522,000 - a record for any football card featuring a current player.
Importantly, both these record-breaking sales came before he won the World Cup in December.
And I believe in 2023 he could potentially become the next player to pass the $1 million mark at auction.
Kylian Mbappé has the world at his feet, and the potential to become one of the all-time greats.
And finally you have the heir to the throne, French superstar Kylian Mbappé.
At just 23 Mbappé has already played in two World Cup finals, winning one as a teenager and scoring a remarkable hat-trick in the other.
He's also the second-most valuable footballer in history, a record goal scorer in the French league, and has over 100 million followers on social media.
In terms of the modern game, Mbappé is as big as they come. And collectors all want a piece of the action.
His game-worn Paris St Germain jerseys from regular season matches can already fetch $30,000+ at auction.
The rapid recent growth in his memorabilia value - and the football memorabilia market in general - is clearly evident.
In June 2021, one of his game-worn jerseys from a 2018 Champion's League game sold at auction for $3,750.
Then in June 2022, another of his jerseys from the same 2018 tournament sold for $23,400. That's a huge leap in value in the space of 12 months.
And following his stunning World Cup final performance, I suspect the value of his memorabilia will continue increase even more in 2023.
With most of his career still ahead of him, Mbappé truly has the potential to create a legacy as significant as Pelé, Maradona and Messi.
He may even equal Pelé's record of winning three World Cups - a feat many would have previously believed impossible in the modern game.
So collectors with an eye on the long-term will certainly be investing in him today, with the hope of a big pay-off in the future.
You certainly wouldn't bet against it.
I'll be bringing you my next top tip for 2023 next week - so don't forget to check your inbox.
And as always, if you have any questions about rare autographs please feel free to get in touch.
Email me at email@example.com.
Or call me on +44 (0) 117 933 9500.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for reading,