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4 alternative assets that ultra-rich people are making money on

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer
A whisky expert examines a bottle of The Macallan Valerio Adami 60 year-old 1926. (Photo credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)

A new Knight Frank report details how some alternative assets are more lucrative than others.

The global real estate firm’s annual ‘The Wealth Report’ revealed that some of these alternative investments made by the really rich — those with a net worth upwards of $1 million excluding their primary residence — have fared quite well in the last year.

Top performing alternative asset classes. (Source: Knight Frank)

Here’s the top 5:


The best-performing asset within this category was rare whiskey — up 40% year-over-year — the report showed.

Rare whiskey was also up a staggering 582% over the past decade. The best-selling whiskey last year based on auction sales was a bottle of The Macallan 1926, the report highlighted, which was “hand painted by Michael Dillon.” It was sold by Christies for $1.5 million.

The private jet of Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese tech giant Alibaba, “has been spotted at Aberdeen airport, while whisky tourism was apparently one of the drivers behind the launch of a new non-stop flight from Edinburgh to Beijing in 2018.”


Collectors may be delighted to hear that coins have also been a lucrative investment opportunity — with the asset class up 12% year-on-year, and 193% over the past decade.

The most expensive coin auctioned off was a gold Polish 100 ducat coin from 1621, sold by the Classical Numismatic Group for $2.2 million.

This coin, one of the largest European gold coins ever minted, was “struck to commemorate Poland’s victory over the Ottoman Empire" in what is now western Ukraine, according to a February 2018 report.

Co-heir and co-manager of the estate of La Romanee Conti, Aubert de Villaine, his nephew and chief of the cellars taste wine in a cellar on January 9, 2018 in Vosnes Romanee (Burgondy). (Photo credit: ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)


Wine also performed well according to the report, with the asset class up 9% over the past 12 months and 147% over the past decade.

The biggest sale was made in October at auction house Sotheby’s where a single bottle of La Romanée-Conti 1945 fetched $558,000.

That was “somewhat higher than its upper estimate of $32,000,” the report noted, which “highlighted the potential premium the market is prepared to pay for impeccable provenance.”

However, the report noted, this was a one-off incident and overall, “it’s hard to predict where the top end of the market will go from here.”

Nevertheless, Knight Frank expects “this pattern of polarization favoring blue chip wine from top producers will continue, with prices accelerating, in particular as the wines approach their drinking windows.”

A crowd of people attend the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale where David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) is displayed at Christie's in New York November 15, 2018. (Photo credit: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)


Art — an alternative investment choice of many high-brow investors — also saw some love, with the asset class up 9% year-on-year and 158% over the last 10 years.

The most expensive work auctioned last year was a painting by David Hockney, called the ‘Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)’— as seen in the picture above — which was sold by auction house Christie’s for $90 million. It was also the biggest sale of art by a living artist.

The report noted the auction houses reported record-breaking sales last year, and expects this trend is likely to continue.


The last alternative asset class rounding off the list — watches. Sales of watches were up 5% over the past 12 months and 73% over the past decade.

The most expensive watch sold last year was the 1970 Rolex Daytona “Unicorn,” which raked in $5.9 million.

The report also found that Middle East investors were most likely to collect watches, while most investors preferred collecting art as seen in the table below.

(Source: Knight Frank)

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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