François Lalanne’s Eclectic Hippo Bathtub Reaps 2,500% Return



When it comes to making a quick buck, perhaps hoarding may come in handy. With news of antique items fetching millions, it may be time to invest a little finance and space in unique finds… no matter how eccentric or seemingly useless, there’s a buyer for everything.

Perched amidst the galleries of Picasso and Monet at Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters, once was the shimmering 9.5ft long hippo-shaped bathtub. But if you look for it now, you won’t find it.

Auctioned off during the Christie’s La Ménagerie sale in New York at a whopping $4.3 million, the eclectic piece was crafted in 1969 by François-Xavier Lalanne from welded brass and copper. The pulchritudinous representation of the African beast boasts a sink and vanity folded within its maw and full-length bathtub housed in its body. Previously purchased at $160,000 in 2006 at the Sotheby auction, the bathtub reeled in a 2,500% profit.

Displaying over 31 other artifacts, the auction featured works by Italian sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti, French animalier and sculpture Francois Pompon, and Swiss designer Diego Giacometti.

Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index

In Knight Frank’s 2017 wealth report, the estate, residential and commercial property agency categorized individual motivations for luxury investments under five ranked classifications – the joy of ownership, capital appreciation, safe haven for capital, investment portfolio diversification and status among peers.

The success of art auctions rest on the shoulders of the world’s top 1% and their appetite for “the very best 19th and 20th century art”. With works by Leonardo Da Vinci reportedly fetching a staggering US$450 million in 2015 and creations of Picasso worth US$179 million, the art trade is anything but unprofitable.

Applying to more than the standard paintings and sculpture, preserved wine were Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) goldmine in 2016, with growth of 11-24%. Other scarcity driven markets include jewelry, stamps, cars, Chinese ceramics, furniture, watches and coins.

While art remains the most world’s most desired collectable, Knight Frank suggests a 334% increase in demand for antique cars and motors over the next decade.


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