Roundup How Baseball Cards Became a Multimillion Dollar Alternative Investment
Rupa Bhattacharya

How Baseball Cards Became a Multimillion Dollar Alternative Investment

CNBC went in this week on the 2020 sports card boom — but specifically from the point of view of cards as an alternative investment. They’re bullish, saying that “[w]ith sports cards growing in value, many collectors are amassing collections of high value as part of a diversified investment portfolio. What separates this era from the previous is the recognition that these cards are a legitimate alternative asset.” 

Besides the expected reasons for the boom — nostalgia from collectors in their 30s and 40s with disposable income, quarantine and ‘Last Dance’ spiking interest — they also cite both a desire to invest in something more tangible than stock, as well as the increased availability of grading protocols and increased digital access via breaking and auctions. In the last year alone, they say. eBay has seen an average of three basketball cards sold every minute on the platform. 

CNBC is not alone here; “It’s one of the most surprising things I’ve seen,” Chris Ivy of Heritage Collections told the Houston Chronicle in a similar article to CNBC’s. “People were stuck at home with no sports on TV and were getting back into hobbies. They view collecting as an alternative investment. Money is cheap, people are hedging against inflation, and they’re buying hard assets.

This Week in Otis

Social media has disrupted almost every imaginable supply chain in countless ways over the last 10 years. It was probably inevitable for sports card collecting — traditionally one of the most staid, inveterate monopolies on the planet — to be fully reinvented by the tech sector.

Live breaks — unboxings for sports cards, streamed on Twitch or YouTube to an audience who has paid for a portion of the box being opened -- are changing the way a generation interacts with cards. Luke Winkie dives into how. 

Read: How Live Breaks Are Reinventing the Sports Card Business

Of Interest

• The Marvel Cinematic Universe keeps getting bigger

• A sneak peek at some possible forthcoming Supreme x AF1s.

• How Grace Jones turned her body into a living artwork

• The invention of NBA cool

• Paul Newman’s watch just sold for $5.5 million.

• Why “dependable gray” is the color of 2020.  

• The best comic artists of the Silver Age

• Four of the rarest Pokemon cards ever have just been certified as genuine

• Celebrating 80 years of Captain America.

• How Michael Jordan’s comeback became a post-9/11 spectacle.   


News From the Otis Collection

• Another MJ rookie card is set to smash the existing record (set last week).

• The NYT profiles Futura on the eve of his upcoming NYC shows — and he’ll be releasing a limited-edition print with the MCA Chicago

• Tracey Emin’s “magnificent refusal to shut up.”

• A new Banksy has appeared in the artist’s hometown of Bristol

• A piece-by-piece breakdown of Travis Scott’s garage.

• TIME named LeBron James its athlete of the year.

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