How to win friends and influence people
How to win friends and influence people
How collectibles can be your ticket to some of the most prestigious events on the social calendar
That's how much it cost one bidder to spend a lunch break picking the brains of Apple boss Tim Cook.
The 2012 runner-up in Time's Person of the Year list will give them an hour of his time - and the cost of the meal is included.
Last year, bidding on another meeting with Cook made $610,000, and that was only for a quick cuppa.
These auctions have been popping up all over the place recently, with various industry bigwigs giving bidders the chance to vie for their attention, if only for a short while.
You may see a meeting like this as a worthy investment, a chance to air your ideas in front of someone that clearly knows their stuff. But let's face it, Cook is unlikely to give you a job or want to back your business ideas just because you've put in the top bid.
Those looking for a real opportunity to meet business-minded, influential people might consider collectibles.
Auction rooms are the perfect place to socialise with other business-minded collectors
'Bond with like-minded people'
"The benefit is more than just profit. [Collectibles] owners can bond with like-minded people in an elite network, with assets offering escapism and a chance to re-enact history."
That quote comes from Mohammad Kamal Syed, the head of strategic solutions at Coutts, the private banking company that counts Queen Elizabeth II among its customers.
It's an often overlooked aspect of collecting, but one that savvy enthusiasts have been well aware of for years - collectibles can be your ticket to all manner of prestige events, where you'll be rubbing shoulders with the top business people.
Just look at some of the world's biggest collectors: Warren Buffett and Bill Gross both collect stamps, and are counted among some of the wealthiest people in the world. Similarly, Leon Black and Steven A Cohen collect art while managing America's top investment funds.
Quite often, these guys can be found at the same auction or exhibition, along with a who's who of the business elite.
There are many reasons why these guys are attracted to collecting, but the social aspect surely plays a big part. The likes of Gross and Cohen lead busy lives, and collecting events give them a rare chance to relax while making plenty of new contacts.
The same applies with classic cars, where clubs and events form a big part of the social calendar. Top business minds are always a fixture and it's only a matter of time before they start talking shop.
I know a man who once ran a $50m investment fund in the USA. That's a significant amount of money but in the financial world it's a drop in the ocean in comparison to Bill Gross's $270 billion Pimco Total Return Fund, the world's biggest.
My friend would never get to meet Bill Gross in a business capacity, and he freely admits it, but through their mutual love of postage stamps I introduced him to Bill at a stamp event in New York.
He even had his photo taken with him and it now sits pride of place on his office desk.
How to join the club
You might argue that you and I aren't quite on the same budget level as these investors, but that's hardly a necessary prerequisite.
Whether high-end or mid-level, as a collector, you're privy to some exclusive events and viewings and you don't have to spend a fortune to get an invite:
This 1910 Tyrian Plum stamp is a world renowned philatelic gem. With just 12 known examples, as its owner you'll be a guest of honour at stamp expos across the world, with top investors in attendance.
Of the utmost historical importance, our Mahatma Gandhi collection could be loaned to museums and important institutions - places where you will meet other custodians of the world's great artefacts. What's more, India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and with Indian investors particularly keen to repatriate their nation's historical artefacts, you'll be the owner of a coveted item that could wellbring strong returns.
Wearing Paul Newman's personal racing jacket to a car collector meet will certainly attract a lot of attention, and possibly a new business partner. Admittedly, you'll need a car to go with it!
More than an investment
I'm always talking about the investment potential of collectibles, so I won't go into that today, but there's another aspect of collecting that lunch with a CEO can't match:
"Indeed, there is one thing that the Coutts Index, for all its robustness, can't measure - and that is happiness," explains Syed.
"The idea of someone paying $50m for an uncomfortable old car, with windows that don't work and a noisy engine, seems illogical. In many ways it is. But the happiness such a car can bring is immeasurable."
The sheer pleasure of ownership that comes with collectibles is what keeps collectors coming back for more - your motive doesn't always have to be profit-centric.
You might look back fondly on that meeting with Tim Cook for years to come, but that memory can't compete with owning an item that you not only love, but that's brought you business opportunities and an exciting social calendar, as well as much-needed contributions to your pension.
Thanks for reading,