The Attic Update Vol. 11 – Pursuing the Impossible, Mungerisms, and Museum Dividends


Thanks for reading The Attic Update, a weekly look at the exciting world of collecting and investing in alternative assets.

The Attic Update is broken down into three sections – PastPresent, and Future.

  1. PAST – A historical look at collecting, investing, and markets.
  2. PRESENT – Ten of the most relevant stories in collecting and alternative asset investing over the past week.
  3. FUTURE – Where are we headed? We’ll look at what’s next for alternative assets and the people working hard to make visions into reality.

Let’s begin!


PAST

Pursuing the Impossible –

World-famous artist Claude Monet worked on a painting for years, and then in a fit of frustration, he would take a knife to his creation and tear it apart. My life has been nothing but a failure, and all that’s left for me to do is to destroy my paintings before I disappear,” he once said.

Claude Monet is described as the father of Impressionism. Not because he was a great impressionistic painter, but because he invented the method. The term came from the title of one of his paintings, “Impression, soleil levant (sunrise).”

“Impression, Soleil Levant”

You know you’re good at your job when an entire artistic movement is described by a word you once used to name your painting. But the origin of the Impressionism phrase came not from admiration but a critical attack. Monet’s “Impression” painting received this scathing and sarcastic review from art critic Louis Leroy in the French newspaper Le Charivari

Impression – I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it… and what freedom, what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape.”

While Leroy’s goal was to dismiss Monet’s painting that was so different at the time, and in his opinion, “wallpaper in its embryonic state,” he actually helped launch Monet’s popularity.

The term “Impressionism” grew from that critical review and started to gain interest and acceptance. Leroy’s takedown of the emerging impressionistic artform backfired.

Monet was now at the leading edge of this movement, obsessed with a new way to display light and color on a subject. His obsession only grew by the day.

Captivated by Light

He was driven to study the science of light. Amazed how fast brush strokes could influence perception. Often, he would paint the same landscapes at different times of the day to grasp how light was hitting objects at different angles.

Monet wanted to capture the “instantaneity” of light on the canvas; his terror was that he wouldn’t be able to achieve his mission.

“To paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place,” he wrote in a letter to his wife in 1886.

At times Monet would set up several easels at the same time and race back and forth between them, chasing the moving light.

Mesmerized by Color

Monet was simultaneously chasing light and wrestling with color. He would write, “color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.”

He was quoted, “I haven’t yet managed to capture the color of this landscape; there are moments when I’m appalled at the colors I’m having to use, I’m afraid what I’m doing is just dreadful and yet I really am understating it; the light is simply terrifying.”

His obsession to master color is best described in his own words when he admitted, “Colors pursue me like a constant worry. They even worry me in my sleep.”

He didn’t need satirical articles about his work published in newspapers to drive him.

Monet was his own harshest critic. His quest for perfection drove him to destroy his own creations.

In 1908, a show featuring his work in Paris was postponed after he attacked his paintings with a knife, slashing 15 water lily canvases.

Ross King, author of Mad Enchantment, wrote, “He would rip them to shreds or even put his foot through them if he was unhappy with his work. He once threw his easel and paintbox into the river in a fit of temper.”

Monet would destroy over 500 of his own paintings in fits of rage, frustration, torment, and despair. But the more you learn about the man, the more you begin to understand his actions as almost completely justified. Almost sensible.

He was attempting the unimaginable, nearly every minute of every day of his life. It’s hard to imagine anyone would behave any differently. As you learn more about Monet, it’s a wonder he allowed any of his works to survive.

Pursuing the Impossible

Understanding Monet’s mindset clearly defines why he’s the Father of Impressionism and why his masterworks are some of the most valuable paintings ever created in human history.

Monet went beyond light and color. The more famous he became, the more determined he was to “render instantaneity.” That is, depict the atmosphere between painter and a subject.

He called this layer the “l’envelope,” or the air itself—particles of soot, dust, light, and the perception of it.

While working on his series of 25 works titled ‘Haystacks,’ he explained his plight. “To me, the motif itself is an insignificant factor; what I want to reproduce is what lies between the motif and me… I am pursuing the impossible.”


PRESENT

Museum Dividends, Rambo Gear, and the Rolex Shortage –

Here’s the ‘Attic Top 10’ – The most relevant stories in collecting and investing in alternative assets over the past week. Not only to keep you informed but to provoke deeper thought, investigation, curiosity, and fun!

  1. Fractional Ownership – Rally, along with the help of museum trustee Chris Fralic @chrisfralic display a rare signed Apple I computer at The Franklin Institue in Philadelphia. The exhibit not only features the Apple I, but a Steve Jobs signed Mac Plus and a sealed in-the-box original iPod. Rally users should take note. One of the platform’s goals is to display collectible items for generating a revenue stream. The possibility of a “dividend” for owning items through the Rally platform is one of my favorite features in development.
  2. Memorabilia & Collectibles – “Property From The Life And Career of Sylvester Stallone” is coming to Julien’s Auctions in December. More than 500 items from Stallone’s personal collection. Boxing gloves and original handwritten notebooks with story development from the Rocky movies. Knives, headband, and arrow quiver from Rambo. Some items could sell for tens of thousands of dollars.
  3. Sports Cards – Here’s a huge profile story on Michael Rubin, founder of Fanatics, the company who just pulled off the stunning heist of the exclusive Major League Baseball licensing contract of baseball cards from Topps Co. Rubin’s Fanatics company has tripled in value over the last 12 months, and his net worth is now estimated at $8 billion.
  4. Rare Books – The New York Public Library begins The Polonsky Exhibition of the library’s treasures starting Friday the 24th. The exhibit will feature one of only six versions of the Declaration of Independence handwritten by Thomas Jefferson.
  5. Crypto & NFTs – You can now send Bitcoin “tips” through your Twitter account by linking third-party apps, including Cash App, Venmo, GoFundMe, and Patreon, to receive funds. Twitter users can also use the Bitcoin Lightning Network to send payments through the Strike app. What’s the big deal here? Twitter will take no cut of the “tip” transfers. Moving money around the world for free is the big deal in this story—exciting stuff in Crypto-Land.
  6. Watches – Rolex responds to its watch shortage and puts conspiracy theories to rest. In a Yahoo Finance story, Rolex released an official statement on the extremely limited availability of new watches hitting retailers. They begin, “The scarcity of our products is not a strategy on our part. Our current production cannot meet the existing demand… All Rolex watches are developed and produced in-house at our four sites in Switzerland. They are assembled by hand, with extreme care, to meet the brand’s unique and high-quality standards…” The point Rolex is trying to make is they are not purposely limiting supply but only continuing to make great watches without sacrificing quality. The current demand is just too strong.
  7. Wine & Whiskey – Collector whisky market strong in 2021. The Rare Whisky 101 Apex1000 Index, the broadest measurement of the whisky market, is estimated to gain over 17% this year. The brand on top of the Apex 1000 Index? Springbank.
  8. Markets & Investing – The price of silver has been slumping. Is it time to take a gander at the lustrous white metal for investment?? Hey, I’m just asking the question – don’t call me a silver bug with an underground concrete bunker under my house. There can be many sensible reasons to consider owning silver, and other precious metals for that matter. Relax, I was just throwing it out there. Let’s move on.
  9. Collector Cars – Completely disassembled Lamborghini Countach 5000 S for sale. Historics Auctioneers is offering a 1982 Countach, including every one of its parts. The only catch is you have to finish the assembly. This is the first time I’ve ever considered buying a “disassembled” collector car. But if all the pieces are ‘theoretically’ included, this would make an incredible life-sized puzzle for Lamborghini fans. A $300,000 puzzle, I should add.
  10. Art – Art Basel opened this week in Switzerland, the first in-person event since the start of the pandemic. One notable sale was a 1982 untitled painting by Keith Haring for $5.5 million. A 1984 Robert Rauschenberg layered canvas titled ‘Rollings’ featuring images from pop culture in a grid-like pattern sold for $4.5 million.

Featured Pod – 

The Vinyl Guide is a podcast for fans and collectors of vinyl records. Featuring in-depth discussions about amazing records and the history of vinyl.

The podcast doesn’t stop with discussions; it also includes amazing interviews with legendary musicians and famous vinyl record collectors.

The episode below features renowned rock photographer and author Ross Halfin. The pod covers his personal collection of Led Zeppelin collectibles, records, and his new book, “Led Zeppelin Vinyl – The Essential Collection.”


Do you love to Hunt? When you’re hunting for half-dollar coins, there are treasures hidden almost everywhere you turn.


FUTURE

Greylock Raises $500 Million Seed Fund –

That’s right, Greylock raised a $500 million SEED Fund. Not a typo. These days, it’s hard to tell if $500 million is a lot of money or not. I’m here to tell you, 500 Milly for a seed fund is a huge amount of Dinero’s.

Greylock is a major player in venture capital, with over 700 investments over the life of the firm. It’s actually one of the oldest VCs in the country, founded in 1965.

But even as a major player with nearly $3.5 billion assets under management, this latest fund is massive. It’s the largest pool of capital dedicated to seed investing ever created.

Along with the announcement, Greylock outlined its strategy for allocating the enormous amount of cash. From a Twitter thread announcing the fund, they highlighted, “we are willing to write large seed checks at lean-in valuations, which gives companies more runway to hit milestones without taking on additional dilution.”

They go on to explain, “Our entire partnership structure and incentives are strongly aligned with the success of the companies in which we invest.”

The venture capital who backed Coinbase, and so many other successful consumer software and fintech start-ups, is clearly upping the ante. Let’s see if the other big players follow suit with massive seed funds in the coming months.


BONUS

Quote(s) From the Legends –

“The big money is not in the buying or selling, but in the waiting.” – Charlie Munger

Most people consider Warren Buffett to be one of the greatest investing quote-machines of all time. He might be one of them, but his business partner for the last half-century has him beat, and by a long shot.

Charlie Munger is the GOAT when it comes to investing quotes. I could spend an entire month reading Munger’s philosophy and not even scratch the surface. Warren Buffett might steal the show as the mastermind behind Berkshire Hathaway’s success, but the man behind the Oracle of Omaha, Charlie Munger, is loaded with wisdom.

“All intelligent investing is value investing, acquiring more than you are paying for.” – Charlie Munger

After all, the man is now 97! years old, and still sharp as a tack. Munger spits out insight at the drop of a hat. During interviews, nearly every other sentence out of his mouth is a timeless gold nugget of truth.

Munger was the man behind this unforgettable quote,

“All I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there.” – Charlie Munger

The phrase is rooted in the ideas of German mathematician Carl Jacobi, who solved difficult problems with this famous strategy, “man muss immer umkehren,” or “invert, always invert.”

We’ll have much more Munger discussions in the future. But don’t wait any longer without diving into his epic book, Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger. Over 500 pages, the book is a monster, and not cheap. But worth every penny.

One final Munger quote that pops into my head often highlights his wise yet straightforward format. The following quote applies to so many areas of life; it’s the perfect ‘Mungerism.’

“Show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome.” – Charlie Munger


Tweet of the Week –

1970s Ford pickups are amazing machines. They make great collector vehicles and can still be very useful from time to time. Whether it’s hauling a broken washing machine or scooping up a load of mulch for the front yard, it’s nice to have a pick-up sitting around when you need it.

So if you need to have a truck, why not make it a great truck, a bad-ass 70s Ford truck?

Here’s a great example of a sweet deal just waiting to be scooped up by the right classic truck fan. Just look at the front end on this beauty! If there’s a design better than the front-end grills on 70s and 80s pickup trucks, I’ve yet to see it.

This 1970 Ford F100 Ranger XLT is listed on Classic Cars for just under $13,000. It hasn’t been completely restored. The photos in the listing show the wear and tear you’d expect from a 50-year-old truck.

But with a rebuilt transmission and engine, the listing claims it runs and drives great.

Values for the 1970s and 80s pickup trucks have been climbing steadily for the last few years. Finding a truck like the one listed above has great potential if you’re looking for an investment where you can add some value.

Move this rig from ‘partially restored’ to ‘fully restored’ status, and you’d have yourself a real gem. And don’t forget to polish the grill.


A Question for You –

What new categories would you like to see more discussion about each week? Self-storage facilities? Medieval amulets? How about fractional-share Formula One racing team ownership… why not!?? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading! And if you enjoyed it, share it!