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Remembering the great Henry Hope-Frost

This week I want to draw attention to an auction taking place on Saturday (July 21) in aid of a special cause. Many of you will remember the hugely talented and popular Henry Hope-Frost – ‘Mr Fever’ – one of the best-loved figures in motorsport journalism and commentating, who tragically lost his life in a motorcycle accident in Grayswood in March this year while returning home from Goodwood. He was just 47.

I’m pleased to say that friends and supporters have rallied round to put together an auction of excusive motorsport memorabilia in support of Henry’s family, which will take place at Silverstone Auctions during the Silverstone Class Event.

Among the highlights are five sets of overalls donated by Formula One teams, including a set worn by Lewis Hamilton at the 2017 Russian Grand Prix, and a set of Williams overalls in the special livery used by Felipe Massa at the 2016 Brazilian Grand Prix. McLaren have even donated a set of overalls dating back to 1998 that were worn on several occasions by David Coulthard.

Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari has donated a signed pair of his driving gloves, and there are a lot of other goodies to bid on too. It’s heartening to see the esteem in which Henry is still held. Visit www.silverstoneauctions.com

Searching for the single malts

Whisky is proving to be one of the great modern collectables, attracting a young buying base as well as long-term, well-heeled enthusiasts. But before you dip your toe in the ‘water of life’ – the word whisky comes from the gaelic ‘usquebaugh’ with that meaning – it’s a good idea to develop a little understanding about how the market works.

For a start there are really two whisky markets: one for rare bottles left over from defunct distilleries or age-old bottlings; the other for new limited edition bottlings of rare casks put aside for special occasions some time ago.

To give you an idea of what these can make, a Hong Kong bidder has just beaten off competition from dozens of rivals to win a bottle of Bowmore 1966 Samaroli Bouquet at £50,000. It was first bottled 18 years after distillation in 1984 and only 720 bottles have ever been produced.

Check out its ranking among the 1000 best whiskies of all time on Whiskybase.com and you will find it at… Number One, with a rating of 96.49 out of 100.

Whether you are going to buy for investment or simply for drinking, it pays to start with the great whisky guru, Charles Maclean’s, Whisky Wheel (see whiskymax.co.uk) and to follow some of the experts, like Dave Broom (@davebroomwhisky) and Neil Ridley (@NeilDram).


Back of the net versus in the net

Choices, choices. Will you be watching the World Cup Final or the Wimbledon Men’s Final on July 15? The solution is clearly two TVs. As I write this, England are still in with a chance, but as of tonight, who knows? Obviously, if they make the final (we can but dream at this stage) households split between their football and tennis loyalties are likely to see more pressure to watch the former, especially now Andy Murray is no longer in the running at Wimbledon.

When it comes to sporting memorabilia, there is no competition, however. Football memorabilia, especially World Cup Winners medals, leave just about everything else standing. In 2016 Pele’s 1970 World Cup Winners medal took £280,000, setting a new record – in fact the Pele collection of football memorabilia sold for a total of £3.6m at the time.

By contrast, iconic tennis memorabilia can be had for relatively modest sums. Bjorn Borg’s racquet from the 1981 Wimbledon Final sold for as little as $18,500 in 2007, while Fred Perry’s racquet from the 1934 Wimbledon Final took £23,000 in 1997.

A London Underground poster from 1933 promoting the championship sold for £25,000 in 2012, but the top price to date is the $71,500 paid in 1992 for Bill Tilden’s 1920 Men’s Singles trophy for Wimbledon. Mind you, that’s close to $1m in today’s values.


How Star Wars prices went intergalactic

What’s the auction record for a piece of Star wars memorabilia? I’ll bet anything that most people will now think it is the Han Solo Jedi blaster gun that sold for $550,000 in California on June 24. Guess what: not even close!

It’s certainly a better price than the $172,200 paid for a Chewbacca set mask in 2012, the $191,000 paid for Han Solo’s jacket in 2016 and the $280,600 for a fighter helmet from Episode IV, A New Hope, also in 2016.

Back in 2012 again, an X-Wing fighter model climbed to $221,400, while Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber from Episodes IV and V went as high as $240,000 in 2008 – surely one of the most iconic pieces ever to come up for sale, and quite a price bearing in mind that it didn’t actually work. The buyer was savvy, however, as they resold it for $450,000 just last year.

The prices keep rising though, from the $319,500 paid in 2011 for a Stormtrooper costume to the $402,500 another buyer paid for the TIE Starfighter ship, also from A New Hope. The Rebel Blockade Runner prop from the opening scene of the first film made $465,000 in 2015, but the prize goes to the R2-D2 prop used in several of the films, which went for a cool $2.76m in 2017.

How long before we see a double-digit price in the millions, I wonder?