Pre-sale estimates are funny things.
Put simply, take your collectible to an auction house and its experts will suggest a realistic valuation price.
The estimate range sets a target - or comfort zone - for everyone involved; the seller, the bidders and the auctioneer.
Below the range lies disappointment, in it lies anticipation and beyond it lies a very pleasant surprise.
But of course, things are never really this simple...
How often do you find yourself looking at a rare or historic item in an auction catalogue and thinking: 'that estimate seems rather low to me'?
I can think of a few examples, this year.
Not least when the actress Debbie Reynolds auctioned her movie memorabilia at Profiles in History's Beverly Hills sale last June.
Many of the historic items sold in Profiles in History's landmark
If you regularly read this column, you'll know that I found myself bidding for Marilyn Monroe's dress at 3 o'clock in the morning... We lost out as bids rocketed to $5.6m.
Naturally, Monroe's dress got all the worldwide press attention. But it wasn't the only star of the Debbie Reynolds sale.
Like Audrey Hepburn's famous Ascot dress from My Fair Lady which sold for a whopping $4.5m.
Here's the thing: the dress auctioned with an estimate of just $200,000-300,000.
But it sold for 15 times this upper estimate. So what's the deal? Did Profiles in History's experts not know what they were doing?
Wrong - quite the opposite in fact
The reason for the (relatively) low estimate on the Hepburn dress was pure and simple: extreme confidence.
Profiles in History knew its sale offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buyers. It knew that the world's press would cover it. That nothing like this auction would be seen again.
It also knew that excitement in the saleroom on the day would be electrifying - and that the dress would sell for way beyond $300,000.
That left them with the trick of generating as much excitement prior to the sale, while attracting as many people, as possible.
Even the most 'austere' auctions can invite high levels of adrenaline
This is why so many pieces in the sale - from Audrey Hepburn's dress to old Laurel and Hardy props - had such surprisingly low estimates.
Saleroom, phone and internet bidders were then drawn by the chance of owning these pieces of Hollywood history at attractively low prices.
While everyone that bid high knew they may never again have an opportunity to own these unique items.
These are the levels of excitement which are driving the global collectibles markets.
High liquidity and eagerness to buy are keeping the collectibles markets strong, and seeing them outperform traditional investments.
As long as this excitement is in the mix - along with other crucial factors like top quality, extreme rareness and impeccable provenance - you can bet that high sales values and price increases are never far behind.
To learn more about how you can benefit from this excitement in the collectibles markets, view our special pages or contact us for a free consultation at:
+44 (0) 117 933 9500
All the best, until next week
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