If you were lucky enough to receive jewellery, a fine watch or vintage wine as a gift this Christmas — it’s a good idea to look after it carefully. Some of the world’s most valuable things are heirlooms that people have held onto for years. Here’s a look at some record-breaking, ultra-luxury treasures.
The world’s most expensive diamond
The South African Pink Star diamond became the world’s most expensive gem last month when it sold for $US83 million ($A93 million) in Geneva, Switzerland. The 59.60 carat pink jewel took two years to polish and cut. It was bought by New York diamond dealer Isaac Wolf who has renamed it the “Pink Dream”.
The world’s most expensive art sold at auction
The world record for art auctions was recently smashed by a 1969 Francis Bacon triptych entitled Three Studies of Lucian Freud — it sold for $US157 million ($A176 million) to an unknown buyer. The highest ever price for a painting was actually through a private sale, when the State of Qatar bought Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players for $US287 million ($A322 million).
The world’s most valuable watch
The world record for a watch sold at auction is for Patek Philippe’s Supercomplication watch, which sold for over $12 million in New York in 1999 to an anonymous bidder. The timepiece was originally built for Henry Graves, an American millionaire who made his fortune in banking and railroads, in the 1930s. Graves, a passionate art collector, was in competition with James Ward Packard, the famous car manufacturer, for ownership of the most complicated watch in the world. The one-off creation includes 24 functions, such as a perpetual calendar with phases of the moon, indications of sunrise and sunset, and a celestial chart depicting stars in the night-time sky over New York.
The world’s highest priced car
A 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Silver Arrow was sold for over $US30 million ($A33.6 million) at auction in July, 2013, to an anonymous telephone bidder. The car’s original owner was Juan Manuel Fangio, an Argentinian race-car driver who dominated the early years of Formula One racing in the 1940s. Only fourteen of Silver Arrows were ever made — and just ten remain in existence today.
The world’s most expensive boat
Russian businessman Roman Abramovich is the owner of the world’s most expensive yacht, the $US1.5 billion Eclipse. The 164-metre, German-built vessel has two helicopter pads, 24 guest cabins, two swimming pools, several hot tubs, a disco, three launch boats, a mini-submarine and, for security, a missile defence system. The yacht costs around US$75 million ($A84 million) a year just to maintain.
The world’s most costly wine
In 2012, three bottles of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1869 were sold to an anonymous buyer at Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong for $US257,773 a bottle ($A289,000). That’s over $US32,000 ($A35,861) a glass. The Lafite-Rothschild wine estate in France has been owned by members of the Rothschild banking dynasty since the 19th century. Cases of Chateau Lafite Rothschild are extremely popular with collectors.
The world’s biggest gold nugget
Australia holds the record for the world’s biggest gold nuggets, with massive lumps of precious metal still being dug up in goldfields. The biggest nugget ever found was the 78kg Welcome Stranger, discovered at Moliagul, Victoria, by John Deason and Richard Oates, in 1869. The Welcome Stranger returned over 71kg of gold – worth around $3 million in today’s prices.
Santa Claus might not have brought items quite like these down the chimney, but they’re a reminder of how much rare and valuable items can appreciate. Many Australians hold alternative assets such as art, wine and gold bullion for just this reason.
Nick Raphaely is the co-founder of Assetline, a personal asset lender which enables investors to borrow against valuable alternative assets, in a fast and secure way. Nick has extensive experience in alternative investments and previously worked for Merrill Lynch in the UK and Australia.