Welcome to our third news roundup, which combines industry news and views with interesting stories from the world of collections, luxury goods and private clients.

Your feedback remains as important as ever to us, so please do tell us if there are other areas you would like to know more about.

When does a small bear cost a lot of money?

We begin this month with news that a drawing of a bear by Da Vinci sold to an anonymous buyer for a record £8.8m at Christie's in London last month. It surpassed the previous record, of £8.1m, set by The Horse & Rider in 2001 and remains one of a few Da Vinci drawings remaining in private ownership.

The drawing measures 7x7cm and is thought to date back to the 1880s when the artist drew a number of similar works.

The rise of the NFT

We have reported on digital art and non-fungible tokens before, and it seems from results released by several leading auction houses that these are increasingly in demand by buyers.

While this medium is undoubtedly in its infancy, what is also clear is that its popularity is growing steadily, with pieces selling for significant sums. A perfect example is Beeple's 'First 5000 Days', which sold earlier this year for over $69 million (USD).

Data for 2021 revealed that NFTs accounted for a staggering $2.5 billion in sales globally, amid generally positive results for the wider fine art market as online sales combined with the start of a return to the auction room.

Old tech, big money

It is fair to say that games consoles have remained hugely popular with both children and adults alike for over forty years. One of the characters made globally famous is Nintendo's Mario, the plumber who finds himself embroiled in all manner of escapades.

The market for collectable games (and consoles) is well established. As with many collectables, items that remain unused and still in their original packaging attract the highest prices among serious collectors.

This was certainly the case last month, when not one, but two Nintendo 64 games sold for world record-breaking prices.

The first was an original Legend of Zelda cartridge which sold for $870,000, setting a new record, only for a Super Mario 64 game to surpass this amount two days later for $1.5 million. The cartridge was graded as 'like new', with all seals intact (a lesser graded game sold for $13,200 by comparison during the same sale).

The game was seen as a pivotal point in Nintendo's history as it marked the point at which characters were designed and worked in 3D; earlier games showed them in profile only.

With condition playing such an important part, correct storage is vital, as is authenticity. Both are crucial considerations in protecting your collection and also supporting its value should a loss occur. You will need to be certain also that your insurance is sufficient to cover your valuable collectables.

Olympian trainers

As Team GB enjoyed continued success at the Tokyo Games, Sotheby's hosted a sale including Olympic-themed memorabilia and trainers (or sneakers) came out on top. This sale combined with the well-established sports memorabilia marketplace – we will be looking at this collectable sector in a future article.

Notably, a pair of spiked running shoes made by Nike's co-founder Bill Bowerman sold for $315,000, with other shoes worn by stars including Michael Jordan and Michael Johnson also commanding high hammer prices.

Stamp duty

As the reduced stamp duty period comes to a close, another kind of stamp has hit the news. Renowned vintage stamp dealer Stanley Gibbons bought the rare British Guiana 1c Magenta postage stamp in June for £6.2 million and will be displaying the 1856 stamp at its London shop in a specially constructed oxygen-free frame.

It is the first time that this stamp has returned to the UK in 143 years and Stanley Gibbons will be offering collectors the chance to buy shares in it via a shared ownership scheme. The pricing is structured to appeal to both the wealthier collectors and those with more modest budgets.

Stamp duty of the taxing kind

It is no secret that the UK housing market was extremely busy during the first half of 2021. The freeze on the first £500,000 of stamp duty finished at the end of June, prompting a surge in purchases. It has been reported that house prices in many areas have continued to increase, with Zoopla stating that prices are around 30% higher than the previous peak prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

Demand for property is also reported to be similarly strong, with stock availability lower than usual. The high demand for property in London by both local and international buyers shows little sign of receding, particularly as international travel restrictions start to relax.

The transition to homeworking during lockdown has also had an impact, with buyers seeking extra space as a priority. Many industry experts are watching for changes in these conditions as measures ease and workplaces reopen, even if on staggered hours. It seems that many will continue to at least partly utilise part of their home as a workspace.

We have previously reported on the impact that Covid has had on the construction industry, with materials being in short supply. This has impacted both new-build developments, as well as extension and refurbishment projects.

Once again, you should be sure that your building's cover is based on an adequate cost to rebuild and that it reflects current costs, particularly when any restriction in the supply of materials may drive costs upward.

When a hot tub isn't a time machine

We will shortly be releasing an article about garden furniture, including hot tubs. Demand for these has rocketed during lockdown (eBay reported over 1,000% increase in sales in 2020) and shows little sign of easing.

During the same period, claims relating to hot tubs almost tripled, according to a recent report, with Aviva reporting a 188% increase in accidental damage claims. Reported incidents have ranged from electronic items being knocked off edges to rings puncturing inner liners and even birds attacking covers.

Our guide will help you enjoy your outdoor spaces, including hot tubs, safely – watch this space.

Your parcel has been delivered – or not…

Lockton's Cyber Security team have produced some great advice on how to recognise parcel delivery scams and what you can do if you think that you have been the victim of this growing criminal activity.

If you have a habit of ordering items online, you are probably no stranger to a "your parcel has been delivered" text. That's why these are a good way for scammers to hook unsuspecting people in.

Three in five of us have had fake delivery company texts over the past year, according to new figures from consumer group, 'Which?'. The messages often contain a link that brings you to a scam website.

There are a few things you can do to make sure you are not caught out by one of these scams:

  1. Take precautions

Quite simply, don't click links in texts. The best thing you can do is actually look at the URL within the text message. If the domain name (that's the bit just before the '.co.uk' or '.com') doesn't match the business it says it is, that's a pretty sure sign that text is not legitimate.

That can be quite fiddly to spot, and sometimes it can be cloned, so it's not fool proof. The best way to stay safe is still to ignore any links in text and contact the business yourself.

  1. Report it

If you do get one of these texts, you can help to protect others by reporting it. You can do this by forwarding the text to 7726, the network operator. Until the network has that information, they will not know to shut it down.

An easy way to remember who to forward this message is to spell out 'spam' on your keypad – the digits for this are 7726.

  1. Contact your bank – as soon as possible

If you've clicked the link and sent money before you realised it was a scam, try not to worry. You can report it to your bank, and you have every chance of getting your money back. There's a few different routes to go down to recover some money. The best thing to do is speak to your bank straight away.

If that doesn't work, try making a complaint to the bank. Failing that, the Financial Ombudsman Service might be able to help.

Online safety for you and your family

Staying with the theme of keeping safe online, The National Cyber Security Centre has introduced guidance for individuals and families about staying safe whilst online. You can read more here.

Lockton's Global Cyber and Technology team have also produced some excellent advice around keeping your children safe when they are online. You can read more here.

Motoring news

We are particularly excited to be able to announce the success of this year's Lockton-sponsored Salon Privé, the premier Concours D'Elegance in the UK. Set once again amid the stunning backdrop of Blenheim Palace and grounds, hosted the Club Trophy Day on Saturday 5 September as the newest gold sponsors of the event.

You can read more about Salon Privé and Lockton here.

For more content, head to our news and resources page on the Lockton Private Clients website.