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Guest Post: Antiquities: The Ageless Asset

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted By Mary Clemente

Antiquities: The Ageless Asset

The 2008 collapse of the United States financial institutions and the recent economic events around the world have sent investors scrambling for smarter and safer ways in which to store and grow their capital. The common questions being asked are “What is good?” and “Where to now?” These questions could be answered, however, by taking a step back in history. 

The market for antiquities has been explored by some of the most legendary financial wizards, such as: J.P.Morgan, Leon Levy, Michael Steinhardt, and Christian Levett. The focus on antiquities has spread around the globe with collectors coming from the United States, Europe, the Middle East, India, and China. Gregory Demirjian of Ariadne Galleries sees this type of response as reasonable and anticipated: "Antiquities and ancient art are not only hard assets whose value has never been victim to speculator-led bubbles, they are important cultural and artistic creations."

Those looking to make quality investments have found that the antiquities market is providing them with a stable market that has generated consistent appreciation in value over time. Some private collections are now becoming part of private museums, such as that of Christian Levett’s Mougins Museum of Classical Art and other national Museums, such as those in Abu Dhabi and Qatar, not to mention the enormous Chinese efforts to reclaim old collections. Mr. Demirjian believes that “unlike contemporary art, there is no hot and cold euphoria but instead, a very stable and consistent appreciation of values.”

Ariadne Galleries is one of a handful of galleries that specializes in ancient art ranging from the dawn of civilization to the Middle Ages. "We help build collections for museums and private collectors around the world. These are works of art that truly stand the test of time, and through the good and bad periods are stable investments that you can be proud to own, enjoy, and share” added Mr. Demirjian.

In economically trying periods like the one we are experiencing now, it is good to know that financial safe havens can be found in objects of great beauty and universal appeal.


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Sun, 11/20/2011 - 14:49 | 1896015 achmachat
achmachat's picture

Joe sixpack's landlord will delightfully accept next month's rent in the form of this beautiful ming dinasty vase.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:25 | 1896116 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

Or rent-free for life for your 16 year old daughter joining my small harem. Deal's off if she leaves.

I will be a generous manor lord in the new new world order which may look suspiciously like the old world order.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 17:00 | 1896383 falak pema
falak pema's picture

you should check the legal ages of consenting harem women if you want to avoid the pen and not run into sean, the barber of pedoporn.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:39 | 1896160 Troll Magnet
Troll Magnet's picture

that is until joe 6pack's landlord realizes that he can buy all sorts of shit made in china for dirt cheap at walmart.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:27 | 1896298 CPL
CPL's picture

I have several in my collection of art.


First is the Elvis Bust, framed in cardboard and on velvet, this valuable painting can add a touch of southern charm to any space.

Second on the collectors must have's is naked girl playing cards.  Original pack, near mint.  Cards, all thoroughly tested and passing all basic inspections as a game or a coaster.

Third and the top tier of the collection, Panther in branch with mysterious back lighting.  This piece is also from the Midwest velvet art period was created at the height of the movement.  Rendered on velvet, the black light capable masterwork totally fucking glows man.  True story.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 23:03 | 1897403 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture



you have forgoten! the one true Italian piece of art all true art lovers must own!

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 17:08 | 1896408 DosZap
DosZap's picture

achmachat ,

IF J6P HAD a Ming Dynasty Vase, he would not be renting anything.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 19:10 | 1896736 Pool Shark
Pool Shark's picture



I prefer to have my wealth invested in barbarous relics...



Sun, 11/20/2011 - 23:05 | 1897409 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture



Transitory Fiat Paper is easier to fold and carry!

dont let it be said I didnt warn you!

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 14:54 | 1896028 bank guy in Brussels
bank guy in Brussels's picture

Then, of course, there is the issue of nations such as Greece, arguing internationally that they have a right to the return of antiquities stolen from them over the centuries.

Holders of antiquities and ancient art, could find themselves on the short losing end of internationally-mandated programmes of confiscation and restoration to nations of original geographic origin.

An old Ferrari or Porsche might be better.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 14:59 | 1896043 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture

France MUST return La Gioconda to Italy.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:32 | 1896141 falak pema
falak pema's picture

and the elgin marbles, by UK to Greece.

and the why and who of the murder of JFK by the US OLigarchs to the people of the USA.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 17:01 | 1896384 knukles
knukles's picture

I'll bet you that I'm the only one on ZH who ever rubbed his schlong on the Elgin Marbles.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 17:57 | 1896512 Dugald
Dugald's picture

Hope it eventually crumbles and drops off from Marble Disease

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 14:58 | 1896039 Argos
Argos's picture

A person would have done VERY well if they had bought jade a few years back.  The Chinese are buying every piece of jade they can get their hands on.  The prices have exploded by a factor of 10!

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:07 | 1896066 Aguadulce
Aguadulce's picture

You could replace the word jade with gold and be correct just the same

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:09 | 1896070 achmachat
achmachat's picture

as a jade "expert" I might chime in and give a little bit of a warning:

there is nothing else to my knowledge which is as subjective as jade! The value of a certain piece depends 100% on a seller's or a buyer's idea of why that piece is more special than the piece right next to it which sells for around 1/100th of the price. There is no objective way to value jade.

I just called myself "expert" just because my wife's family owns a jade mining + carving company in north-east China.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:57 | 1896156 Crassus
Crassus's picture

Very true.

Antiquities are fine as long as one has early and intense collection provenance, thermoluminescence or other pertinent scientific tests, and a nice letter from Von Bothmer, Trendall (for Greek vases) or whomever wears the experts' hat for the item and culture in question.  They're famously hard to liquidate in a hurry if one needs money.  Stick with the artless Krugerrand. Buy antiquities for enjoyment.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 18:00 | 1896519 Dugald
Dugald's picture

A well stocked fast yacht is worth looking into....

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 22:47 | 1897372 Oracle of Kypseli
Oracle of Kypseli's picture

Needs lots of fuel which will be hard to find.

How about a well stocked 75' ketch?

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 23:09 | 1897420 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture



I go the other way.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:04 | 1896056 GeneMarchbanks
GeneMarchbanks's picture

'In economically trying periods like the one we are experiencing now, it is good to know that financial safe havens can be found in objects of great beauty and universal appeal.'

IMO Philharmonics are BE-autiful. Get some.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 17:21 | 1896436 margaris
margaris's picture

I hope you are talking about the coins, and not entire orchestras.


Sun, 11/20/2011 - 17:37 | 1896476 hidingfromhelis
hidingfromhelis's picture

Nothing Else Matters

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:07 | 1896067 Lord Koos
Lord Koos's picture

Investment advice for the 1% - thanks.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:29 | 1896131 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

Even a middle class family can fill their house with antique furniture rather than buy new plastic and chrome plated junk.

Two decent stores of wealth:

What rich people like
What poor people need

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:37 | 1896322 Mad Max
Mad Max's picture

More like the 0.05%.  Close enough.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:11 | 1896078 Manthong
Manthong's picture

There are more than a few ammo cans full of Morgans around that represent ageless value.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:18 | 1896270 CuriousPasserby
CuriousPasserby's picture

Ammo cans are a great way to store silver coins. In a gun safe. Bolted to the floor. in the corner of a safe room. With a steel door.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:14 | 1896085 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

ECB to IMF to BIS to UN to Uncle Ben's 15 minute rice casserole.

The Chameleons UK - Don't Fall

Don't fall twang, twang, twang on a Gibson Guitar. mwahahaha!!


Sun, 11/20/2011 - 20:01 | 1896934 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

i just saw them play thursday at cafe du nord in SF, outstanding performance, one of the best concerts i've been to.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:15 | 1896086 11b40
11b40's picture

I can't help be reminded of Donald Rumsfeld and his nonchalant musings about all those vases and trinkets destroyed and looted from the museums in Baghdad.  What a fool.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:34 | 1896123 falak pema
falak pema's picture

Rumsfeld was the perfect Yankee Templar; arrogant and clad in his mantra 'I am right'. Well, like the Templars of old he was proven wrong. Franks and Yanks are first cousins separated by a thousand years; where two young nations think they are IT. 

Now that doubt sets in in US circles, as the debt mountain makes broke-back mountain look puny, people go rushing back to the past; and antiquities become à la mode!

I had the same impression but some years ago that history was going to repeat itself so I wrote this about the clash of civilizations now around the Oil patch, vital nerve today of civilization as was Constantinople and Holy land in days of spice and silk routes; the source of world wealth.



Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:17 | 1896096 Fate
Fate's picture

As a collector of ancient Roman silver coins (denarii), I can tell you that the more common, well-struck Imperial issues (from Domitian to the Severans) have increased substantially, some by as much as 300%.  I've been looking into acquiring some of these in the past year, and have been rather shocked at how prohibitively expensive some of these relatively common issues have become.  And while I don't collect bronze coins (despite their affordability), I have seen that even those have risen in price for better quality pieces.

I'm a firm believer in PMs (especially "junk" U.S. silver) as both an inflation hedge and insurance against a currency collapse.  But there is something incredibly significant and romantic about holding an 1800-year old hand-struck coin, a quality that no modern issue (or certificate) has... a link to the ancient world.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:02 | 1896232 Taterboy
Taterboy's picture

Fate: I started collecting ancient Greek and Roman coins in 1989. They have proven to be a great investment and a source of great enjoyment. I know exactly what you mean.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:20 | 1896277 CuriousPasserby
CuriousPasserby's picture

I like ancient coins too. But I'm afraid of a "fnd" making the better ones worth less. With sophisticated metal detectors, more and more are going to be found.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:27 | 1896294 spanish inquisition
spanish inquisition's picture

All of you coin collectors be careful. Fake coins are the next big export from China. (Edit: and they are really improving over the last couple of years)

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:23 | 1896110 Eally Ucked
Eally Ucked's picture

Dear Mary Clemente, we love your products but at this time our monetary resources are a bit restrained  so please come back in few years and Im sure that ZH community will buy the whole fucken inventory of yours

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:30 | 1896132 magpie
magpie's picture

How about turning ones bullion into aesthetically pleasing plate ?

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 18:08 | 1896533 Dugald
Dugald's picture

Better still, cast your gold into well fitting handles....makes for easier carrying when flitting over the horizon

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:47 | 1896186 spanish inquisition
spanish inquisition's picture

The great thing about antiquities and art is that they don't have to be real, you just need experts to say they are real.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 23:10 | 1897421 Oracle of Kypseli
Oracle of Kypseli's picture

Months before auctions of antiquities, paintings and other art pieces, the insiders pay writers and experts who are contributors to magazines to write opinion about those as a coincidence to which the auctioneers make reference. Slam dunk during the auction.

I was once invited to an auction by a friend and was asked to hold a number and do nothing and say nothing. Just sit there and hold my number so it is visible to the auctioneer. You know the rest. I must have bought at least three expensive pieces and I didn't even know it. Of course that was to push pricing up on most others that were sold to real buyers.

I got a painting as a reward of a young Italian painter specializing in painting various odd sea crustaceans.

Now that reminds me to see if that guy is dead yet.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 15:52 | 1896200 DaveA
DaveA's picture

During hyperinflation, a grand piano or Ming vase might buy you a few pounds of beef. Not a good investment unless you can hold on to it until the crisis is over and there's a market for luxury items again.

If you're rich and fully stocked up on food, guns, ammo, and gold, go ahead and buy some paintings. Otherwise you're making a big mistake.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:04 | 1896236 Schmuck Raker
Schmuck Raker's picture

I've a 45 year old Cougar I'd pay you to take off my hands. A few dings, and she's been driven hard, but she IS fun. :P

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:57 | 1896370 falak pema
falak pema's picture

hey, put a tiger in your tank or go buy yourself a mustang so that your cougar can roar, like a mouse. It'll make your story more palatable

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:08 | 1896242 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

Vases are for breaking. Furnature is for burning in hard times.


As Big Daddy said while standing chest deep in European crap:


"Europe is just one big firesale!"


America has been building this economy for years now. Count the number of Flea Markets and Pawn shops that have spouted like weeds around the vacant lots of dead and decaying first class retail space.


It is easier to enjoy being with a 5000 dollar a night lady at least one time in life than it is to have a house full of demanding little bitches that have not yet matured. More expensive too.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 18:24 | 1896585 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

There are no $5000 hookers...only $5000 johns.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:34 | 1896266 Waterfallsparkles
Waterfallsparkles's picture

As a Woman I am buying 24 K Gold Encrusted Porcelain China Vases, Tea Pots, Cups Saucers, Dining sets, for my Grand Daughters.  Most from the early 1900's made in China, Japan and France.  The dinner ware pieces are hand decorated in 24K Gold. The Vases and other pieces are totaly encrusted with 24K Gold.   In fact I thought I saw a Vase and a Lamp just like the ones I own in one of the pictures at the White House. Little by little adding to my collection.

What is amazing is that the prices have gone up so dramatically thru the Dealers.  It is hard to find bargans now.

It is so impractical but so beautiful.  Maybe that is what makes it so enjoyable to collect it.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:42 | 1896333 Waterfallsparkles
Waterfallsparkles's picture

Looks like most of the Posters are Men who would not value fine china.  But, for the Guys I do own a large collection of Antique tools as well.

Mon, 11/21/2011 - 03:13 | 1897763 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

I was raised in a house hand built in 1922 and were told the stories contained within the bridal cups and every item in the place.


Several tours through Colonial Williamsburg and other place showed good antiques.


I have no use for these. Now, bullion....

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:16 | 1896267 americanspirit
americanspirit's picture

Unfortunately most antiquities, like most genuine tribal art, have been looted. Ancient coins, however, are one niche that is not only pretty safe but probably morally OK - as long as you know your coins really really well - lots of fakes out there, many coming from our buddies in China.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 19:43 | 1896854 swissaustrian
swissaustrian's picture

Yep. Coins are probably the cleanest category. I don´t want to know about the conditions in ancient gold, silver, and iron mines, though. You can be assured that people died for your coins.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 16:54 | 1896363 falak pema
falak pema's picture

gerard clemente got cleaned of gold paper; he should have stuck to antiquities with an Italian name. Like a true italian he should have known dinari are what the romans love to steal from their fellow italians or to debase as devalued coin, not their etruscan vases, that we now love.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 17:27 | 1896444 hidingfromhelis
hidingfromhelis's picture

Don't forget to save a few FRN's; they'll command a few whatevers in the new currency someday.  

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 19:14 | 1896751 MFL8240
MFL8240's picture

Laughable.  I'll take the Gold you can have the old lamp. 

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 19:22 | 1896783 Lester
Lester's picture

Want a great collectible?  Look into Sterling Silver Flatware.  The Spanish nobility avoided most of the European Plague and other communicable illnesses because they ate with silverware and drank from silver goblets.  We keep a .9999 pure Canadian MapleLeaf in the reservoir of our water filter.  There will never again be the Silversmith craft and guildwork.  Plenty of beautiful pitchers, serving platters, covered serving dishes and candlestick pieces that may be less pricey than super-collectible porcelains, but being Sterling 90% they will always have base melt-value and a market; something other collectibles lack.

Buying a few coins every week?  Look into flatware pieces on Ebay or at your local flea-market.  Any 90% piece will be marked; don't buy any that isn't.  Better to own Spoons and Forks for each family member than just a few more coins anyway.  When there is no doctor and the antibiotics are long-gone, your flatware could be your Ace-In-The-Hole...

Got grandaughters?  Live in a decent state for firearms purchases?  Buy them each a defensive pistol in .45acp and a training session or two.  Ought to own firearms for your whole family, and ammunition to keep them functional.

Other stuff...  Got a motorhome?  Got a summerhome or hobby farm?  What assets do you own that will enable your family to live and work together and thrive in the days ahead?  Nothing better than remote property, ready to go with a well, warm climate and security selected location.  Might look at a purchase in trust for your grandchildren.  A good barn or metal building with food storage locker filled with a couple-year supply of whole grains, herbs and food preparation staples could make the survival of your bloodline possible.

See my survivalist blog at:  

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 20:07 | 1896958 Waterfallsparkles
Waterfallsparkles's picture

I agree with you on the silver flatware.  It has more value because of its craftsmanship and as you said it could always be melted down.

I would rather own Sterling Silver Flatware that has an everyday use than silver coins or bars.

I do own some and have considered buying more but the sets are rather expensive these days.

Maybe some time in the future I will look into buying 2 sets for my Grand Daughters and for investment.  I like the Steiff Silver as it is made in Baltimore and widely recognized for its flatware patterns.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 20:25 | 1896974 Waterfallsparkles
Waterfallsparkles's picture

P. S. I also agree with Antique Firearms or firearms in general, if you cannot afford antiques.  They are very valuable, plus usefull.  For protection and Hunting. I gave the ones I had from my Dads Estate to my Son.  He said that he would not sell them for any price.  Although, I do keep one or two modern guns for my protection.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 21:40 | 1897218 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture


When there is no doctor and the antibiotics are long-gone, your flatware could be your Ace-In-The-Hole...


You can just as well have a couple coins per person in clean enough condition to lick.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 19:40 | 1896840 swissaustrian
swissaustrian's picture

This article is a bunch of BS.

1.) auction results from the big houses (Sotheby´s, Christies, Bonhams etc) show that even high end antiquities prices have a correlation to the stock market and overall economic conditions.

2.) Antiquities prices are clearly inflated and bubblish. One could buy a great Greek marble head for a few hundred GBPs in the early 1970s. Now you have to pay hundreds of thousands for the same piece.

3.) As other commenters already suggested: Luxury goods won´t keep their value in a hyperinflation because everyone - even the rich - will be struggeling for survival. It only makes sense to hold art if you want to keep it beyond the chaos and sell it once things got back to normal.


Mon, 11/21/2011 - 12:45 | 1898932 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

And it only took 60 comments to get to the one that highlighted the pertinent issues.

I am Chumbawamba.

Sun, 11/20/2011 - 22:49 | 1897378 orgonor
orgonor's picture

buy rare vinyl records up to 1983 or so ;)

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