November 17, 2017

Perspective

WSJ – Leonardo da Vinci Painting ‘Salvator Mundi’ Smashes Records With $450.3 Million Sale – Kelly Crow 11/16

  • “Leonardo da Vinci’s rediscovered portrait of Jesus Christ sold at auction for $450.3 million, making it the most expensive work of art ever sold.”
  • “The estimate for the work was around $100 million. But before Wednesday night’s sale in New York, dealers had wagered the image of an enigmatic Christ dressed in a blue robe and holding a crystal orb could sell for far more—given that da Vinci is a household name, fewer than 20 of his paintings survive and this is the last one deemed by him in private hands.”
  • “The price more than doubled the $179.4 million spent two years ago for Pablo Picasso’s 1955 ‘Women of Algiers (Version O),’ as well as an earlier record of $170.4 million for Amedeo Modigliani’s 1917-18 ‘Reclining Nude.’ In private sales, paintings by Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin have commanded as much as $250 million and $300 million, respectively.”
  • “Alex Rotter, chairman of Christie’s postwar and contemporary art department, fielded the winning telephone bid after a 19-minute bidding war with at least five rivals in which bids were initially lobbed in $10 million increments. Billionaire collectors in the saleroom watched with their cellphone cameras held aloft as though they were at a rock concert.”
  • “’I’ve been going to auctions for decades, and I’ve never heard that room let out a collective gasp like they did when it sold,’ said Joanne Heyler, founding director of the Broad, a Los Angeles museum. ‘It’s hard for me to even comprehend that level of bidding.’”
  • “’Salvator Mundi’ isn’t instantly recognizable, like da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ or ‘Mona Lisa.’ This painting was considered a plum for its rarity. Auction records show only a trio of da Vinci’s 2,500 drawings have ever even come up for sale—the highest fetched $11.4 million in 2001—and no authenticated paintings have entered the market in at least a century.”
  • “Da Vinci painted the portrait around 1500, and it bounced among European royals for hundreds of years before shoddy cleaning efforts and overpainting rendered it almost unrecognizable.”
  • “When it surfaced in 1958 at Sotheby’s, it sold as a ‘school of da Vinci’ work for only £45 (about $125 at the time). But in 2005 a group of Old Master dealers and a conservator took a closer look and campaigned for its reauthentication. Ultimately, they won validation from museums and da Vinci scholars.”
  • “’Salvator Mundi’ comes from the collection of Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian fertilizer billionaire.”

Bloomberg – Billionaires Stunned as Da Vinci’s Christ Sells for $450 Million – Katya Kazakina 11/16

  • More information on the seller. Rybolovlev purchased the painting for $127.5 million in 2013, part of his $2 billion art collection. Which he has been in the process of trimming.

WSJ – Daily Shot: RadioFreeEurope – Where Do IS Foreign Fighters Come From 11/16

Economist – The rich get richer, and millennials miss out 11/16

  • “Buoyant financial markets meant that global wealth rose by 6.4% in the 12 months to June, the fastest pace since 2012. And the ranks of the rich expanded again, with 2.3m new millionaires added to the total, according to the Credit Suisse Research Institute’s global wealth report.”
  • “The report underlines the sharp divide between the wealthy and the rest. If the world’s wealth were divided equally, each household would have $56,540. Instead, the top 1% own more than half of all global wealth. The median wealth per household is just $3,582; if you own more than that, you are in the richest 50% of the world’s population.”
  • “America continues to dominate the ranks of millionaires with 43% of the global total. Both Japan and Britain had fewer dollar millionaires than they did in June 2016, thanks to declines in the yen and sterling. Emerging economies have been catching up in the millionaire stakes; they now have 8.4% of the global total, up from 2.7% in 2000.”
  • “In the 12 months covered by the report, the biggest proportionate gains in wealth occurred in Poland, Israel and South Africa, thanks to a combination of stock market and currency gains. Egypt is by far the biggest loser, having lost almost half its wealth in dollar terms. Switzerland is still the country with the highest mean and median wealth per person.”
  • “There is a wide generational gap: millennials (those who reached adulthood in the current millennium) have a lot of catching up to do in the wealth stakes. Americans currently aged between 30 and 39 years of age are calculated to have amassed 46% less wealth on average in 2017 than the equivalent cohort had gathered in 2007.”
  • “Higher student debts and the difficulty of getting on the housing ladder have made it harder for millennials to build a nest-egg. That disparity might come back to bite the baby-boomer generation, who are fast moving into retirement. When baby-boomers want to cash in their assets, they may find millennials can’t afford to buy them at current prices.”

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

A Teachable Moment – Insanely Expensive Life Insurance – Anthony Isola 11/15

Civil Beat – Here’s What It Really Takes To Survive in Hawaii – Neal Milner 11/16

  • “Hate them if you must, but homelessness, vacation rentals and unlicensed care homes are natural responses to problems plaguing the islands.”

FT – The Zuckerberg delusion – Edward Luce 11/15

  • “Talking about values has the collateral benefit of avoiding talking about wealth.”

NYT – Deception and Ruses Fill the Toolkit of Investigators Used by Weinstein – Matthew Goldstein and William Rashbaum 11/15

Real Estate

WSJ – Daily Shot: Moody’s – Housing Market Valuations 11/16

Finance

WSJ – Daily Shot: Bitcoin 11/15

  • And there it goes again.

Entertainment

WSJ – The Music Industry’s New Gatekeepers – Neil Shah 11/15

  • “Playlist professionals have replaced radio DJs as the new power brokers, as streaming services’ ready-made song lists become hitmakers.”

China

Reuters – Beijing hits brakes on subway boom over debt concerns – Brenda Goh 11/14

  • “China has been in the grips of a metro-building binge with more than 50 cities working on over 1 trillion yuan ($150.8 billion) worth of projects, after population restrictions were loosened last year to allow more cities to have metro systems.”
  • “Such infrastructure spending has helped to shore up economic growth but is now being scrutinized more closely after the government pledged to clamp down on financial risks.”
  • “China has hit the brakes on subway projects in at least three cities and Beijing is asking others to slow down their plans, local governments and media have reported, indicating concerns over high debt from city-level infrastructure spending.”

FT – China’s laid-off workers pose daunting welfare challenge – Emily Feng 11/15

  • “Early retirement for 1.8m in coal and steel sectors imposes heavy burden on state.”

India

Bloomberg – A Dud Diwali For Developers This Year – Purva Chitnis 11/16

  • “Developers hoping for a Diwali revival were left disappointed. Enquiries surged to their highest since demonetization during the festival season. Sales didn’t.”
  • “Fewer apartments were sold in the top eight cities in the quarter ended September, according to property research company PropEquity. Sales declined 13-60% in the three months, according to its data. Sales haven’t picked up since January even as initial cash crunch after the note ban began to ease. New launches that contribute the bulk of the demand plunged as well.”
  • “The housing market continues to hurt from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to outlaw old high-value bills and a new housing law. Demonetization had hit real estate the hardest as buyers had to pay up to 40% cash upfront – unaccounted. The Real Estate Regulation Act that followed protects customers against false promises and bars builders from shifting funds from one project to another (a good thing). A combination of the two triggered a cash crunch, bringing down demand and new launches.”

Japan

WSJ – Daily Shot: Topdown Charts – Japan Labor Force Participation 65yrs and older 11/16

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