Alternative Investments: Where, What, When

Whether it's a rare bottle of Bordeaux or a 1931 Bentley, chances are your stock broker isn't going to be able to help you get your hands on either.

So where does an investor look to break into alternative investing?

Fortunately, there are big events throughout the year where investors can get their feet wet.

Here's some upcoming highlights for 2009 and 2010 where those looking to start or build their portfolio can bid, buy and bargain for a profit.

Alternative Investing - A CNBC Special Report - See Complete Coverage
Alternative Investing - A CNBC Special Report - See Complete Coverage

Auctions are one of the best ways to scope out and purchase anything from antiques to automobiles, and some of the most recognized auction houses offer multiple events a month specializing in various items.

Christie's, for example, will be kicking off the holiday season with wine, jewelry and art auctions.

Christie's will offer wine auctions every month through the end of 2009.


A variety of fine wines will be available, including some relatively inexpensive ones, perhaps for beginner investors, as well as more expensive vintage wines, says Charles Curtis, Christie's head of North American wine sales.

1947 Cheval Blanc
Source: Christie's
1947 Cheval Blanc

Prices range from a couple hundred dollars to upwards of $60,000, depending on the year and the quantity.

The November 14 auction in New York will consist of 850lots from several distinguished collections and is expected to draw in more than $2.1 million.

Highlights include ten bottles of 1961 Chateau Latour a Pomerol ($50,000-$70,000), one bottle 1945 Romanee-Conti ($24,000 - $30,000)and ten bottles of 1961 Chateau Latour a Pomerol ($50,000 - $70,000).

Sotheby's also will be hosting wine auctions through the end of this year and beginning of 2010, including an auction Nov. 14 featuring 436 bottles of Vega Sicilia Único from 1921-1999.

“We have a pretty wide range of wines, fine and rare wines which fall into the investment category,” says Jamie Ritchie, senior vice president of Sotheby’s New York wine department. “They’re the best of the best.”

While most auctions are hosted at the house's facilities, Acker-Merrall & Condit, a New York wine store and auction house, branches out to local restaurants and venues to host its auctions of fine and rare wines, turning the sale into more of a soiree.

“I think the biggest difference between our auction and others, is our auctions are fun and you have a wider diversity of wines,” says John Kapon, president and auction director for Acker-Merrall. “The auctions are really a big party, not a dry afternoon where everybody’s in suits and neck ties. We like to have fun and interact with our clients.”

The wines offered are considered some of the finest to be found.

Acker-Merrall will feature an original case of 1982 Latour in magnums (est. $15,000- $20,000) at the Dec. 12auction, which will be held at the New York City restaurant Bouley.

The auction house and wine store will also be hosting an event in Hong Kong Jan. 30 at the Island Shangri-La Hotel, where a collection of Henri Jayer wines is expected to draw in potentially $1 million.


For the investor uninterested in liquid assets, there's jewelry and art on the winter and spring calendars.

The Annenberg Diamond
Source: Christie's Auction House
The Annenberg Diamond

Diamonds are at the forefront of Christie’s jewelry auctions. In October, the auction house auctioned the flawless 32- carat Annenberg Diamond for $7.7 million.

The Oct. 21 event was one of two annual jewelry auctions Christie’s hosts each year in New York City. The other is April 2010.

In Hong Kong Dec. 1, a 5.00-carat, pink diamond ring will go to the highest bidder.

Alternative Investing - A CNBC Special Report - See Complete Coverage
Alternative Investing - A CNBC Special Report - See Complete Coverage

“All of China will show up to bid on that diamond,” says Rahul Kadakia, the Christie’s New York jewelry department head.

Not all gems, however, will fetch seven-figure sums.

“We have pieces for collectors at all levels,” says Kadakia, “We’ve geared our auctions to all price points and all ages.”

Prices will range under $10,000 to millions of dollars, he says.


Those interested in art can also count on being out and about.

Art fairs are a driving force behind promoting art action.

“Art fairs are the galleries response to auction houses,” says Robert Manley, Christie’s department head of Post-War and Contemporary Art. “Galleries and auction houses have a very symbiotic relationship.”

One of the bigger auctions Christie’s puts on is in London and coincides with the Frieze Art Fair, which is an annual contemporary art fair featuring over 150 art galleries from around the world.

The 2010 auction will be Oct. 14-17.

This event is not to be missed by investors looking to buy contemporary art. It is the “cutting edge art fair,” says Manley.

Christie’s auction, although not directly affiliated with the fair, happens at the same time.

Cars, Coins, Elvis And Jacko

The American Numismatic Association is heading to Boston for its 2010 show, Aug. 11-15. It's the largest coin show in the U.S. for rare coin and bullion coin buyers, attracting over 1,000 dealers and over 20,000 collectors.

With over 60 dealers and an average of around 5,000 people in attendance, the American Stamp Dealer’s Association’s Spring Mega Event, is the perfect opportunity for someone looking to invest in stamps to find what they are looking for and more, Joseph Savarese, executive vice president, said.

The annual event will be hosted in New York City April 15-18.

The organization also hosts a stamp show March 12-14 in Chicago.

If you're interested in something bigger and mobile in the new year, then head out to Scottsdale, Ariz., where you'll find one of the year's major vintage car shows.

The Barrett-Jackson Auction Company will host its 39th Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction Jan. 18-24.

Craig Jackson, CEO of the Barrett-Jackson Auction Company, says his car shows are a “lifestyle” event; they are about having fun as much as about buying and selling.

Some of the top cars include a 1955 Ford Thunderbird Convertible "Production #1," a 1923 Oldsmobile Custom Touring Roadster and a 1970 Plymouth Superbird Custom Tribute.

But if old memorabilia—not old cars—is your passion, then keep your eye on The Gotta Have it Auction House Web site for the date on an upcoming auction.

Pete Siegel, the owner of the memorabilia auction house, is planning an auction featuring Elvis memorabilia sometime before December.

If pop music is more your style, then check out the Michael Jackson auction at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City Nov. 21. Juliens Auctions is selling personal items—a white glove, Fedorra hat and platinum record, among others—that the star gave to friends and family members over the years.