September 8th, 2023 - This Week in Alternative Investments

Freddie Mercury’s handwritten lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” sold for over $1.7 million


Bite sized market updates

Over $15 million of Freddie Mercury's items were sold at Sotheby's. The auction included the legendary Queen singer’s grand piano that sold for $2.2 million and handwritten lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” that sold for over $1.7 million.

Total bank exposure to commercial real estate is estimated at $3.6 trillion. A Wall Street Journal report says the number is higher than what is often reported.

Coinbase launched an institutional crypto lending platform. Coinbase Prime users have already invested $57 million since it launched last week.

A rare coin collection sold for over $83 million over the past year. The Harry W. Bass Jr. Core Collection included three rare coins that sold for over $4 million each.

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Market Updates

Sotheby’s Freddie Mercury auction smashed expectations. Every one of the 59 lots sold for a total of $15.4 million, with many of the lots going for ten times (or more) their pre-sale estimate. The biggest sales were for his grand piano (~$2.2 million) and the handwritten lyrics to “Bohemian Rhapsody” (~$1.7 million). A bracelet Mercury wore during the “Bohemian Rhapsody” video sold for ~$871,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $10,000, while his crown and cloak costume from a 1986 tour sold for ~$791,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $100,000.

Banks’ exposure to the struggling commercial real estate market could be worse than previously thought. A Wall Street Journal report put total bank exposure to commercial real estate at $3.6 trillion, which could be as much as 20% of total deposits. Overall, banks’ commercial real estate holdings dropped for the first time in a decade, and mortgage origination fell by 52% in the second quarter. As financing becomes more difficult, it creates downward pressure on property prices, further impairing the banks’ existing holdings, making lending even more difficult, creating a spiral that could damage the market substantially.

Coinbase announced a new crypto lending service. The U.S.-based crypto exchange is targeting institutional clients through their existing Coinbase Prime service. According to an SEC filing, clients have already invested $57 million into the service since it launched in late August. Crypto lending was in the news earlier this year when both Genesis and BlockFi declared bankruptcy.

The Harry W. Bass Jr. coin collection ended up selling for $83.66 million. The sale was conducted over four auctions during the past year at Heritage Auctions, who initially estimated the value of the collection of 450 gold coins at $60 million. Highlights included an 1870-S Three Dollar Gold ($5.52 million), an 1821 Capped Head Left Five ($4.62 million) and a 1907 Ultra High Relief double eagle ($4.32 million). The proceeds of the sale are going to dozens of non-profits in the Dallas area.

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