May 10th - This Week in Alternative Investments

Brought to you by Percent, offering private credit investments to individual investors


  • Major spring art auctions are starting

  • FTX customers to be made whole

  • Sotheby’s expands its NBA partnership

  • Crypto VC funding rebounds

  • A baseball card heist

Plus: The SEC comes for Robinhood, a Messi napkin, billion dollar AI raises, and much more.


$62,432 (-1.4% weekly)
Liv-Ex Fine Wine 1000
395 (-0.7% monthly)
Thomson-Reuters VC Index
16,659.43 (-3.3% weekly)
Green Street CPPI - May
121.8 (unchanged)

*as of market close May 8th


How Percent Brings Private Credit to Accredited Investors

Private Credit: It’s a popular asset class these days. You’ve maybe noticed an increase in headlines in WSJ, FT, etc. It’s a multi-trillion dollar asset class that’s grown 800% since 2006. But what is it? 

Pretty simple actually: Private credit is when non-banks lend money to private businesses who need capital. The only problem is that traditionally only institutional investors have access to investing in private credit.  But thanks to Percent, regular accredited investors can also access private credit with a minimum investment of only $500.

See why investors have funded over $1 billion in private credit on Percent:

  • Attractive yields: On Percent, the current weighted average yield is 18.1% (as of March 31, 2024)

  • Shorter durations: Deals can range from 6-36 months with an average of 9 months

  • Diversification: With small business loans, merchant cash advances, trade finance, consumer loans, and more across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America

  • Extra credit: Open a free account and get up to $500 with your first investment.

Market Updates

Van Gogh’s “Coin de jardin avec papillons” (Christie’s)

The spring art auction season kicks off next week. Major auctions will be held at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips in New York, and will be a significant bellwether for the art market as a whole. Expectations are somewhat muted, with estimates for evening sales generally 20-30% lower than last fall, and 50% lower for the day sales. Auction sales fell by 18% in the first quarter of 2024, following a 27% overall decline in 2023. Projections for upcoming sales forecast a 18% drop from last year and nearly a 50% drop from 2022. As auction sales stagnate, the private market has seen more activity, as sellers who are hesitant to sell into a down market have more price certainty. Ultimately, though, estimates are only estimates, and the final results will speak to the current strength of the market.

Failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX is on track to repay its customers. The company is selling off assets held by its Alameda Research and FTX Ventures divisions, and projects to have billions of dollars more than it needs to cover its outstanding debts. If the plan is approved by the U.S. bankruptcy court, “98% of its creditors will receive approximately 118% of the amount of their allowed claims.” However, the claims are denominated in dollars at the time of the bankruptcy, so while the crypto market has risen significantly since then, customers will not benefit from that change in value.

Sotheby’s is doubling down on NBA memorabilia. With the playoffs in full swing, the auction house announced that it will be selling 75 authenticated game-worn jerseys every two weeks in a fixed-price marketplace. The first sale went live this week, with prices ranging from $750 on the low end to $20,000 for Stephen Curry and Anthony Edwards items. This is in addition to the regular auctions they have been holding, with five more already scheduled in the next two months. While the continued partnership is bringing sports memorabilia into the traditional auction space, there are concerns that this will saturate the market (63 of the 75 jerseys are still available). However, Sotheby’s is hoping the lower price points and easier access will allow more collectors to enter the space.

Crypto venture capital funding surpassed $1 billion in April. This marks the second straight month it has hit this milestone, the first time this has happened since 2022. This is largely due to the rebound in the crypto market in 2024, which has spurred investment. Thus far, total investment in 2024 has exceeded 2023’s pace and several notable VC firms are raising large new crypto funds. Infrastructure startups have seen the biggest share of funding in 2024, followed by decentralized finance (DeFi)-related startups, with NFTs and DAOs bringing up the rear.

Crypto VC funding in 2024 by sector (RootData)

Smart Humans Podcast

In this episode of Smart Humans, Slava Rubin talks with Skybridge's Anthony Scaramucci about investing into alts, navigating a bear market, and staying long bitcoin.


(Memory Lane Auctions)

📝 Top Stories

  • $2 million baseball card heist: Last week, 54 vintage baseball cards worth between $2 million-$3 million in total were stolen from an Ohio hotel. They were meant to be displayed at a card show and were from Memory Lane's latest auction. Fortunately, they were fully insured, but some of the cards are very rare and it would be a shame if they go missing permanently.

  • SEC v. Robinhood: In its latest crackdown on crypto, the SEC sent Robinhood’s crypto trading division a “Wells notice,” which is a precursor to an enforcement action. Given that Robinhood’s crypto revenue more than tripled last quarter, they will be highly incentivized to fight back.

  • The best city for buyers on a budget: Pittsburgh ranked as the #1 market where people who earn under $100,000 can still afford to buy the median home in the area. Fellow Rust Belt cities Detroit and Cleveland rounded out the top three, and as other cities become less affordable, demand for property in these areas could continue to grow.

**Sponsored link

 🎨 Art

  • A 72-year old breakout artist: Japanese painter Takako Yamaguchi was seeing her paintings sell for $10,000 as recently as December 2022, but now they are routinely selling in the six figures, with one surpassing $1 million, and many more coming to the block next week at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

  • Churchill portrait: A rare signed portrait of the former British leader is being auctioned by the artist, Paul Trevillion, who is hoping to get more than £1 million for the drawing.

  • Irrevocable bidding: This is an interesting breakdown on the practice also known as a “third-party guarantee,” where auction houses secure a bid prior to the auction in order to get the seller to agree to place the item with them. The bidder often gets favorable terms and a percentage of the upside - meaning that if the item sells for more than their guaranteed bid, they receive a portion of the difference.



  • The Messi napkin: The document used by Spanish club Barcelona agreed to sign a 13-year old Lionel Messi is up for auction, with a current bid of £220,000 and an estimated price of between £300,000-£500,000 - showing how valuable the market is for one of soccer’s GOATs.

  • Sports memorabilia as an asset class: A poll from cllct found that 46% of Americans and 53% of the 18-34 demographic think that collecting sports memorabilia is an investment.

  • Disappearing Pushkins: More than 170 books valued at $2.6 million, primarily first editions by the 19th century Russian author, have been stolen from libraries across Europe, as the demand for rare Russian books grows worldwide.

🪙 Crypto

  • House passes pro-crypto legislation: Led by Smart Humans podcast guest U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, the House passed a resolution to repeal an anti-crypto SEC policy, but the White House said it would veto it if it passes the Senate.

  • Altcoin unlocks looming: Nearly $2 billion of altcoins could be coming to the market in the next few months as assets are set to vest for early investors, which is likely to put selling pressure on the market.

  • Binance’s manipulation coverup: The world’s largest crypto exchange has been accused of firing an internal investigator who found that VIP clients such as investment firm DWF Labs had engaged in pump-and-dump schemes and wash trading - again highlighting the need for retail investors to be cautious in crypto trading.

🏡 Real Estate

  • Pessimistic about the housing market: According to a Gallup poll, only 21% of Americans think that now is a good time to buy a home, tied with last year for the lowest number on record.

  • Farmland prices plateauing: The rapid rise in prices over the past few years has started to slow down in parts of the country, but top-quality land is still performing well.

  • BREIT concerns: Wall Street is questioning the performance of Blackstone’s massive private REIT that targets individual investors, with one analysis finding that BREIT is overstating its net asset value (NAV) by more than 55%.

  • Office defaults rising: With interest rates rising and demand for office space declining, more than $38 billion worth of office buildings are at risk of default, which represents the highest mark since 2012.

🚀 Venture Capital

  • Wayve’s billion-dollar raise: The British self-driving company focused on “embodied AI” technology raised $1.05 billion led by SoftBank, Nvidia and Microsoft.

  • CoreWeave’s valuation nearly triples: The New Jersey-based cloud provider of GPUs for AI services raised $1.1 billion on a $19 billion valuation after being valued at just $7 billion in a secondary sale five months ago.

  • Down rounds are up: According to leading venture law firm Cooley, down rounds accounted for a third of deals done in the first quarter of 2024, the highest number in at least ten years.

Down rounds are up significantly in the past two years (Cooley)

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*Disclaimer: Alternative investments are speculative and possess a high level of risk. No assurance can be given that investors will receive a return of their capital. Those investors who cannot afford to lose their entire investment should not invest. Investments in private placements are highly illiquid and those investors who cannot hold an investment for an indefinite term should not invest.