Auctioning Life Experiences

The other day I posted about having to change in order to keep pace in the shifting landscape of the art market and within the appraisal profession. I see many new, young and well qualified art professionals making their way into appraising and art advisory.  The key here is adaptability, but as I mentioned, much change and allied professional encroachment is coming from the auction world. In one of my bullet points on auction house expansion was adventure and lifestyle packages.

Forbes recently posted an article about such lifestyle auctions through a partnership of Sotheby's and IfOnly an online market for life experiences. Many young professionals are looking for memories when it comes to their leisure time and spending, and Sotheby's is adapting to the challenge.

Forbes reports
Ever wanted to take tennis or golf lessons with seasoned pros and coaches? Or gift your friends and family with a bespoke private dinner by the world's finest chefs? Dreamed of attending a Star Wars film premiere and exclusive after-party with the actors?

International auction house Sotheby’s is partnering with IfOnly, an online marketplace for experiences, to launch their first-ever Experiences Auction from November 28 through December 9 online.

In the digital age, there's been a trend of spending more money on experiences than material goods—especially among millennials.

Sotheby’s has had most three centuries of success selling rare antiques and art, whereas IfOnly is a five-year-old company. But, similar to how Neiman Marcus recently opened Rent the Runway sections inside their New York stores, Sotheby’s is collaborating with a younger brand to expand to a millennial audience.

“Our clients are passionate collectors of unique or very special items. I think that that trend will continue,” Josh Pullan, Sotheby’s senior vice president and global head of e-commerce told FORBES. “But I think this (auction) does speak to the fact that people are looking for experiences in addition to material objects.”

The 10-day auction features a 22 once-in-a-lifetime adventure, culinary, and celebrity experiences curated by IfOnly. The auction will also follow IfOnly’s philanthropic model, where at least 5%, if not half or all the profits go to global causes.

One of the most exclusive items includes two VIP tickets to the London screening and industry after-party of the upcoming Star Wars film, Rogue One, along with a meet-and-greet with Forest Whitaker. Bidding starts at $35,000 and is expected to fetch between $50,000 to $70,000, a portion of which will benefit the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative.

Another package includes a private lunch with celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe at a top Beverly Hills restaurant and a tour of her Hollywood headquarters. The experience for four, starting at $7,000 and estimated to reach $10,000 to $15,000, will donate to Save the Children.

Hamilton enthusiasts can get two orchestra seats to the coveted Broadway show, as well as a backstage tour with a cast member. Bidding starts at $1,500—which is about the price of purchasing one ticket (if you can even find one) anyway.

For athletic fanatics, there’s a tennis lesson for two with Brad Gilbert, who’s coached the likes of Andy Roddick and Andy Murray (starting at $4,200), and the chance to play golf at your dream course with elite instructor, Brian Mogg (starting at $7,000).

For the artistically inclined, there are aerial photography lessons for two from a private helicopter (starting at $18,000).

And for food and drink enthusiasts, the auction offers the most options. You can wine and dine with screaming Eagle winemaker Nick Gislason at his Napa vineyard, or host a luncheon for 40 with rare delicacies served by Gary Danko—both starting at $14,000.

Sotheby’s and IfOnly anticipate other price points to fall between the mid-hundreds to tens of thousands. Perfect for a holiday gift, many experiences involve multiple guests.

“Our target customers are affluent, educated people seeking life enrichment, but our secondary target is millennials,” Trevor Traina, the founder and CEO of IfOnly told FORBES.

As he believes, millennials use social media as a platform to curate their personal “brand”—something to show off their personality and interests. While fewer people are Instagramming new items they’ve purchased, more are posting pictures of themselves traveling, at events, and meeting important people.

“I think the Sotheby’s audience is 100% predisposed to experiences,” Traina explained. “By definition, an auction is in itself an experiential event. There are surprises, the anticipation, the exhilaration.”

This auction-within-an-auction experience is perhaps the best bid for both companies to capture customers who care more about sharing photos on social media than collecting things.
Source: Forbes

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