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Investing in autographs

2010-11-16 09:15:38 GMT2010-11-16 17:15:38 (Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Autographs from the rich and famous have become a valuable commodity as investors seek alternatives to cash. Values have increased more than 300 percent over the past 10 years.

There are no prizes for guessing which pop star wore this on stage - but you may be surprised by its value.

This single item of Madonna's clothes is worth 15,000 pounds - that's 24,000 dollars.

Her autograph is also worth almost a thousand pounds.

Paul Fraser is director of Paul Fraser Collectables.

He says the value of celebrity items and autographs has risen by more than 300 per cent over the last decade - beating the stock market and even gold.

SOUNDBITE: Paul Fraser, director, Paul Fraser Collectables, saying (English):

"Where people were quite happy to leave their money in the bank and they were getting 6 or 7 percent, or pension funds they thought were as solid as a rock and suddenly realise now they're not going to get the money they thought that they paid in for 40 years, so people can enjoy these collectables and get a profit from them."

With many currencies proving shaky and stock markets hard to predict interest in alternative investments is growing.

A rise in the number of millionaires in China and India is also fuelling the demand.

SOUNDBITE: Paul Fraser, director, Paul Fraser Collectables, saying (English):

"They want a tangible asset, I think that's a key thing about collectables and it doesn't correlate with the normal stock market - in the last couple of year's when the stock market crashed high-end collectables have gone up."

As autographs increase in value, there are fears traders are replacing genuine fans - making some reluctant to part with their signature.

When Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon he couldn't have guessed how much that would cost him years later.

SOUNDBITE: Paul Fraser, director, Paul Fraser Collectables, saying (English):

"His barber cut his hair and decided to sell it and clearly he was very unhappy about that."

So much so he stopped signing his name - making his autograph the rarest and most valuable of anybody alive today at 5,500 pounds.

Small change compared to the King of celebrity autographs.

SOUNDBITE: Paul Fraser, Paul Fraser Collectables, saying (English):

"This is a Henry the VIII early letter, this was sent to the pope to try and get his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled. That's for sale at £275,000."

At 75,000 pounds Neil Armstrong's training suit also has a sky high price tag.

But there's no shortage of people willing to buy - and as a result many of today's autograph hunters are after far more than a close encounter with their idol.


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