Author Archive: Robert Bell

Weirdest personal collections that broke world records

The world is a very interesting place and everyone has their own definition of both the wonderful and the bizarre sides of it. In fact, some make sure that whichever draws the center of their fascination deserves a rightful recognition—how? By nurturing their habit of collecting a particular item that represents what fascinates them, such as designer bags, rock band memorabilia, coins, artworks, and even postage stamps! For the investor who seeks to diversify his portfolio to another level, such passion collections can also become highly profitable alternative investments in the future.

For the more bizarre side of things, let’s take a look at some of the weirdest personal collections around the world and what urges their collectors to amass large and record-breaking quantities of these unique items.


  1. Airline Barf Bags

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This weird collection by Niek Vermeulen started as a friendly bet that resulted to a massive accumulation of over 6,000 airline sick-bags collected from 1,142 different airlines. Vermeulen is from the Netherlands but he is world-famous for this bizarre passion, earning him a Guinness world record.


  1. Fossilized feces

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From August 2016, George Frandsen holds the world record for the most number of fossilized poop samples (scientifically known as coprolite). In October, he lent his collection of fossilized feces from eight different countries to the South Florida Museum. The highlight of the year-long exhibition was a 4 pound, 3.5 ounce turd from a prehistoric crocodile named “Precious”.



  1. “Do not disturb” door signs

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Collecting souvenirs is common for most people who often travel around the world. Some of the items that are a must-haves for these holidaymakers are key chains, t-shirts, fridge magnets, etc. But have you ever heard of anyone going home from a trip with a “Do Not Disturb” sign as a priced memento? For Rainer Weichert, collecting door signs is both a hobby and a passion, securing him a world record for his 11,570 keepsakes (as of 2014) from cruise ships, airplanes, and hotels in almost two hundred countries around the world.

REPOST: This new virtual reality tool could transform how we design cars

The car manufacturing industry is undergoing a major overhaul. With evolving market demands and the advent of new design technologies, carmakers are now capable of creating unique concept vehicles quite more easily. Symourpowell has developed an amazing software wherein people can freely conceptualize their designs within a short amount of time. Here’s an article from CNN to know more about this groundbreaking technology:

Google opened a new world of VR possibilities when it introduced the 3D painting app Tilt Brush in 2016. Targeting the worlds of art and design (Google recently launched its own artist in residence program), the software has shown what can happen when creativity is let loose in a virtual environment.

Now, London-based design studio Seymourpowell is hoping to do the same in the automobile sector with a new 3D sketching tool. Wearing an HTC Vive headset, users are able to draw, manipulate and augment car models in virtual reality.

The software is designed to speed up the design process, with adjustments quicker to make than if modeled in Photoshop or in traditional 3D-imaging programs.

Streamlining the process

Seymourpowell’s lead automotive designer, Richard Seale, hopes the tool will bridge the longstanding divide between designers (who are paid to shoot for the stars) and engineers (who are meant to keep them grounded).

“As an engineer, it’s very frustrating to (produce) cars with designers, because designers and engineers are typically at loggerheads,” he said at the firm’s south London studio. “It’s the same for designers, (who say) ‘I want to do this — why can’t I?'”

The typical design process begins with a meeting — or three — followed by concept sketches. Once a design is approved, a clay model is created. After that, a costlier model is used to further refine the design.

Continue reading HERE.

The unexpected impact of great public art spaces on tourism

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We all have different ideas of what makes a tourist destination unique and unforgettable. Oftentimes, people travel to see places that they’ve never seen before while some want to experience a way of life outside of their own.

The place and its culture, the sights and experiences, two of the most typical reasons why we pack our bags and take that once-in-a-lifetime trip but do you know that there’s a more interesting way to explore and travel the world?


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Public art, unlike its ancient and popular counterparts has captured the interest of millions of audience through its unique way to interact and converse with the viewing public. Unlike the typical art destinations housed in museums, it can provide an experience that transcends culture and breaks down language barriers so that anyone from any part of the globe can take part and understand their glorious message.


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This ability to see through differences have made public art an asset in the tourism industry especially in the modern, globalized world. In fact, aside from its cultural and majestic experience that it offers to anyone willing to observe, public art has contributed to a phenomenal tourism and economic boom in cities and countries everywhere.  For instance, “The Gates” in New York City has delivered of $254 million to the home of the Central Park after attracting over 4 million visitors.  Another example is Oakland’s “The Bay Lights” installation that have brought a $97 million impact on the local economy through in 2015.

REPOST: What is driving the soaring demand for art storage?

Artworks are no longer bought simply as aesthetic additions to enhance homes, but also as investments believed to skyrocket in value in the future. As such, safe and high-quality storage is needed to keep them in pristine condition. Read more on this Apollo Magazine article:

With the number of art galleries increasing at a rapid rate, more collectors entering the field, collectors building substantial holdings, and museums expanding, the demand for fine art storage has increased, too.

Art-storage firms typically offer fireproof buildings, trained security personnel, surveillance cameras, motion detectors, and transport. Crating, shipping, customs, and condition reports are among the other services they offer. Clients can store their artworks either in rooms that accommodate the holdings of other clients, or in private rooms. Viewing spaces where dealers, as well as art advisors, can display the art works they have on offer to clients are also a feature. Private collectors also use viewing spaces on a short-term basis.

‘I think that from 30 to 50 per cent of major collectors use our viewing rooms where they can take their friends to see their other collections,’ says Simon Hornby, president and CEO of New York-based ‘art logistics’ firm Crozier Fine Arts. (The company was founded in SoHo in 1976 and acquired by the information management company Iron Mountain in 2015.)

Before joining Crozier, Hornby served as senior vice president and executive director of Global Risk Partners, an international risk-control and loss-prevention firm specialising in fine art and valuables. Twelve years ago, Hornby was instrumental in the development of the Global Risk Assessment Platform (GRASP), a method by which insurers can evaluate warehouse and museum facilities.

In 2016, Crozier increased its number of storage facilities, adding 250,000 square feet of art-storage space with two new locations in Newark, New Jersey and New Castle, Delaware. Earlier this year, it acquired Cirkers, an art-storage firm in New York, which was founded in 1873. In all, Crozier now controls approximately 750,000 square feet of storage across eight facilities in six locations along the east coast: Manhattan, Brooklyn, New Jersey (where there are two), Connecticut, Delaware, and Southampton. Plus, it has expanded both its Chelsea headquarters and Southampton warehouses. Approximately 40 per cent of its clientele are private collectors, 40 per cent institutions, 10 per cent individual artists and designers, and 10 per cent are art advisors.

The London-based firm Cadogan Tate now offers 13 storage facilities, with four in London, three in New York, three in Los Angeles, and one in each of Miami, Paris, and Nice. Its clients are dealers, collectors, art museums, interior decorators, and auction houses, including Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Bonhams. The firm opened its first Miami facility last year and will open its fourth New York storage facility, conveniently located between New York City and the Hamptons, in August. ‘Now, we are currently exploring opportunities for state-of-the-art storage facilities in Chicago and Dallas as well as internationally, in particular Hong Kong,’ Graham Enser, global managing director of fine art at Cadogan Tate, says. ‘With yet more art fairs, galleries and new dealers sprouting up in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, we have seen a growth in customers looking to store pieces destined for art fairs,’ he adds.

Continue reading HERE.

Beyond paintings: Weirdest art items auctioned to private buyers

Art is a wonderful alternative asset class for long-term investment. In fact, it is widely known for producing some of the world’s most expensive items sold at auctions.

When art imitates life, we often find ourselves in the presence of something beautiful and enchanting. However, there are times when art makes its way to mimic and portray the weirdest and the most bizarre aspects of humanity that can either overwhelm the experienced art critic or leave the general public confused.

Nonetheless, many private collectors have chosen to see beauty and uniqueness in the weirdest pieces of art and were willing to spend thousands of dollars to win the most prestigious auctions around the world.

Let’s take a look at some of the weirdest art items auctioned to private buyers:

Merda d’artista

Translated as the Artist’s Shit, this artwork was created in 1961 by the Italian artist Piero Manzoni. The entire presentation consists of 90 4.8×6.5cm tin cans, each filled with 30-gram feces. So where did the artist get his inspiration? According to sources, Manzoni wanted to explore the relationship between art production and human production.

A sale at Sotheby’s in 2008 sold tin 083 for over $122K.

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My Bed

First created in 1998, My Bed was Tracey Emin’s most bizarre artwork that was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. The British artist’s work gained popular attention because of the presences of several peculiar media and materials: bedsheets with bodily secretions, a pair of knickers with menstrual blood stains, and condoms. Emin claims that the artwork was actually “created” when she had not left her bed for several days while contemplating suicide.

Collector Charles Saatchi bought the work for over $180K, installing the artwork in a dedicated room in his own house.

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Red Mirror

Red Mirror is a work by the German visual artist, Gerhard Richter. Considered as one of the top-selling living artists, Richter set record-price auctions in 2013. One of the items sold was the “Mirror,” and won for a bid of $750,000—and the artwork was in the form of a slightly gradient red paint on a mirror.

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Balloon Dog (Orange)

While not as bizarre as the rest of this list, this iconic art piece by Jeff Koons created history when it was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for a staggering $58.4 million, easily becoming the most expensive work of art by a living artist sold at auction. The 12-foot stainless steel sculpture was part of Koons’ “Celebration” series in 1994 and has been exhibited in various venues around the world, from the Grand Canal in Venice to the roof terrace of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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REPOST: $1 billion art week could mark recovery

With major auction houses set to bag over $1 billion in revenues, this week is arguably a critical moment in the fine art market. Based on the following report by CNBC, the “big demand and the biggest prices are in post-war and contemporary art, which are more popular with today’s younger, new rich.”

Source: Christie’s
“Leda and the Swan” by Cy Twombly

The three major auction houses are set to auction off more than $1 billion worth of fine art this week, marking a test of whether collectors can shrug off turmoil in Washington and sagging stock markets.

Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips have an estimated $1.3 billion worth of works on the block this week. That would mark an increase from last May’s sales total of $1.1 billion, but about half the sales totals from the market’s recent peak in 2015.

This week is arguably the most important of the year for the big auction houses and comes at a critical moment in the art market. While prices, confidence and supply rebounded after the presidential election, with solid buying last November and early in the year at art fairs, it remains to be seen whether the uncertainty in Washington and recent softness in stocks could slow the growth.

For their part, the auction companies are optimistic.

“I think the mood is very good,” said Loic Gouzer, co-chairman of Christie’s Americas post-war and contemporary art. “Clients are calling on a constant basis wanting to know what’s going on, what’s for sale, they want to see the works.” He added that “for us the driving force is the works. If we have the works, the quality is there and people follow.”

The big demand and the biggest prices are in post-war and contemporary art, which are more popular with today’s younger, new rich.

The star of the week will likely be Jean-Michel Basquiat, the 1980s artist who’s primitive, bold canvases have become favorites of collectors who came of age in the 1980s. Sotheby’s is selling a 6-foot untitled Basquiat from 1982 that’s expected to sell for $60 million, which could be the most expensive piece sold for the week.

Continue reading HERE.

Three basic summer fashion tips for women

The fashion industry is a huge business. After all, Europe’s richest man made most of his money from this sector. However, it is also something that continuously evolve, with innovative trends emerging season after season. This summer, expect new or reinvented fashion styles to hit magazines and shopping malls.

Summer is not only the best time of the year to have the most breathtaking outdoor adventures and island getaways with your friends. It’s also the season when you can express your style and be confidently fashionable. However, finding the right clothes to wear does not only mean expertly choosing the perfect color and outfit combinations. In this sunny season, comfort should always come first.

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So what should you keep in mind before organizing your summer wardrobe? These basic summer fashion tips for women will give you the most relaxed and carefree sunny days you’ll ever have.

  1. Always go natural.

Did you know that synthetic fibers like polyester and rayon trap more heat than natural ones like cotton and linen?

Natural fibers are more breathable than other common synthetic materials. Plus, cottons and linens absorb sweat and dry faster, getting rid of that sweaty and sticky feeling all day.

In addition, synthetic fibers allow bacteria from our skin to readily grow and could cause body odor.

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  1. Ditch the backpack and go for a tote.

If you’re just going out for a short road trip, travel light. Having a backpack stuck to you back will not only make you sweat from the effort of carrying a huge bag but it’s also another layer away from the cool summer breeze.

Summer is all about the fresh and sunlit vibe, so don’t let a backpack ruin that. A tote or a crossbody will always be a smarter and more fashionable choice.

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  1. It’s time to buy that cotton scarf.

A cotton scarf is made of natural fabrics. It doesn’t only absorb heat, it can also help you manage your hair – in style. There are different  ways to wear summer scarves and each can match any outfit that you have planned for the day.

One final trick is to soak parts of the fabric in cold water before you put it whether around your neck or to tie your hair up for an extra cooling effect.

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Art of freedom: Self-published authors who made millions

Being an author entails hard work and intense dedication. Before becoming successful, they often need to deal with several challenges and break barriers. From submitting their work to their editor alone, for example, they need to write tens to hundreds of thousands of words and mold it into an interesting story. During the entire process, they are faced with pitfalls such as writer’s block and diminished productivity.

When they do finish their work, it still isn’t guaranteed that they’ll be making money off of it. Their fate is literally dependent on whether or not the public will view it favorably. However, despite the countless trials, some authors were able to make a name for themselves and millions of dollars in the process. More interestingly, a few of them were self-published and didn’t rely on the help of any major publishing house!



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One name in this category which will continually pop up is Amanda Hocking. She is one of the first authors who was able to make millions by self-publishing and independently selling e-books. Some of her most famous works include the ‘My Blood Approves’ series and the ‘Trylle’ trilogy.


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Another impressive self-published author goes by the name of Hugh Howey. Before writing dystopian sci-fi trilogies, he was creating short stories. After adding more content to his masterpieces, he then decided to publish them through Kindle’s Direct Publishing system. He became a huge hit and rose in popularity.


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Many might not know but E.L James herself was a self-published author, with her ‘50 Shades of Grey’ novels reaching the top of many best-seller lists. The trilogy actually started as a fan fic of Twilight which was published online. One thing led to another, and a whole new world of eroticism was born.


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Today’s age of e-books and self-publishing platforms (such as CreateSpace, Lulu, and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing) has made it possible for almost anyone to become an author without the need for a traditional publisher or literary agent. It might require heavy promotional efforts but rewards (especially on the financial side) can be potentially lucrative (as authors tend to get higher cut on each work sold as compared to royalties they earn from a conventional publishing setup).

REPOST: Pigcasso: The pig creating art that sells for thousands

Can animals really make masterpieces? This pig certainly can and her works may even soon be featured in a Paris or New York art gallery. ITV has the full story:


A pig that was saved from a slaughterhouse now spends her days creating artworks that sell for up to $2,000 (£1,600).

Aptly named Pigcasso after her namesake Picasso, she started painting in October last year.

She now has her own art gallery, with art collectors describing her pieces as “abstract”.


Pigcasso spends her time on the South African farm creating artwork. Credit: APTN


The sow was brought to the South African animal sanctuary where she now lives when she was a piglet.

The manager of the sanctuary Joanne Lefson, who rescued Pigcasso, says she first noticed the sow’s talent when she placed some balls and paintbrushes in her pen to play with.

“It wasn’t long before I discovered that she really liked the bristles and the paintbrush for some reason. And it was just a case of nurturing that talent,” she said.

The artwork, some of which now hangs in Pigcasso’s very own art gallery on the farm, has sold for prices ranging from $280 to $2,000.

The funds raised from art sales go towards the South African Farm Sanctuary, a haven for rescued farm animals.

Continue reading HERE.

Beyond aesthetics: Art as an alternative investment

Most investments available to regular investors today are usually paper assets—representations of ownership of an asset, such as a stock, bond, or money market account. They generate portfolio income, but their value or prices can fluctuate drastically depending on market conditions. They are in direct contrast to hard assets, which contain actual value in the nature of the item itself. They include precious metals (particularly gold and silver), diamonds, oil, real estate, and even artworks!


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Monetizing art is often considered an alternative investment. It is very illiquid and to some extent, risky. However, it can be a great investment option for people willing to put their money aside long-term.  Artworks, especially those created by established artists, are highly valuable. Their prices generally increase by age, but some can instantly be priced at the higher end of the spectrum if they were created by a famous personality. In some cases, valuable artworks (in all forms) may be found right in the attic: an antique wardrobe, pre-war photographs, a decades-old Chinese vase, or a painting bought many years ago and whose creator is now popular.


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Works of art’s prices are highly unpredictable. While they may generally increase over time, there is no guarantee that they could outperform stock indexes, for example. Most sales are conducted through private dealers and auctions are the most popular venues, attended only by people with the highest interest for such niche items. The best prices are given to those that were created by top artists—which include those that were virtually unknown while they were still alive but suddenly received considerable attention posthumous. Every work of art is unique, which means that it can create both opportunities and hazards for investors.


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Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to diversify one’s portfolio. A mixture of paper assets, currencies, real estate, and alternative investments can help one take advantage of the vast potential of these types of assets. As for works of art, however, investors should start with a genuine appreciation of the objects first before deciding to turn them into a platform to make money.


To get a professional advice regarding alternative investments, or if you wish to know more about investing as a whole, I recommend talking to an advisor at LOM Financial.