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From Crypto Art to Sports Memorabilia: The Rise of Risky Alt Investing

The Motley Fool logo The Motley Fool 6/19/2021 Angelica Leicht
a blue and white sign on a pole: From Crypto Art to Sports Memorabilia: The Rise of Risky Alt Investing © Provided by The Motley Fool From Crypto Art to Sports Memorabilia: The Rise of Risky Alt Investing

a blue and white sign on a pole: A blue street sign reading Risk Ahead. © Getty Images A blue street sign reading Risk Ahead.

Looking for a new way to invest your spare cash? Some investors are betting it all on risky business ventures in hopes of a massive payoff.

The last couple of weeks have been filled with a ton of hype over crypto investments, thanks in major part to the meteoric rise of Dogecoin. The meme cryptocurrency, which got a massive boost from Tesla CEO Elon Musk's Twitter account, has risen a whopping 12,000% since January. This has turned some coin owners into millionaires -- many of whom bought into Dogecoin when the price was hovering at $0.007.

All it took to see massive returns was a $1,000 purchase of Dogecoin at the start of the year, when it was priced at less than $0.01 per coin. A $1,000 Dogecoin purchase at that price at that time is now easily worth over $100,000 in your bank account -- despite the price fluctuations that have followed Doge's ascent to internet fame.

It's lucky buys like these or things like the GameStop stock insanity that occurred earlier this year that have would-be and experienced investors searching for their next big investment. These trends have given way to a rise in alternative investments, with some investors dumping money into some pretty curious gambles.

Keep reading to learn more about alt investments and how sports memorabilia and crypto art may be the next big things to skyrocket to the moon.

What's driving the demand for alternative investments?

According to some experts, the push for alternative investments stems from an unusual place: real estate.

Since the start of the pandemic, seasoned and would-be investors have pushed up home prices across the nation as they take advantage of record-low mortgage rates. This crushing demand for real estate has caused a housing crisis in almost every major market -- making it tough to get a piece of the real estate pie.

This sent a frenzy of would-be real estate investors to look for other ways to cash in. And it happened at a time when alternative investments like Bitcoin and GameStop were in the headlines for making lots of people rich.

When you couple that need to invest with some pandemic-induced boredom, you end up with a recipe for risky business. And for many people, that risk has paid off in spades. This has caused people to seek out creative and sometimes just plain odd ways to capitalize on alt investments -- including sports memorabilia and crypto art.

The demand for sports memorabilia

If you socked away a bunch of your old Big League Chew trading cards, this may be the time to dust them off. That's because there's big money being dumped into sports memorabilia right now. The pandemic -- and the lackluster return on some traditional investments -- has caused demand to hit record highs for the collectible sports memorabilia market.

Need proof? Take the rookie trading card featuring quarterback Tom Brady. It sold for a record $2.25 million in April. Or how about Mickey Mantle's extremely rare 1952 Topps baseball card, which sold for a whopping $5.2 million back in January.

Tons of sports memorabilia has been flying off the shelves. Much of it comes with price tags in the hundreds of thousands -- and even millions in the case of the baseball cards or a Babe Ruth jersey that sold for $5.64 million at auction.

And, interestingly, it's not just vintage collectibles making a splash. Digital sports collectibles are also booming. Take NBA Top Shot for example. This is a blockchain-based platform that lets people purchase, trade, and sell basketball highlight clips in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Business for NBA Top Shot has been booming, as it surpassed $200 million in sales back in March -- and the demand hasn't slowed down yet.

It's clear that the sale of sports memorabilia, both tangible and otherwise, is extremely lucrative right now -- and is prime pickings for those looking to invest in alternative markets.

A massive investment in crypto art

We've all heard about the cryptocurrency mania thanks to Dogecoin's unexpected rise, but crypto coins aren't the only thing investors are going after. Crypto art has also started to make an impact across the nation -- and it comes with a substantial price tag.

NFTs aren't just being used for digital sports collectibles. They're also being used in the art world to sell digital artwork -- which come with contracts on blockchain asserting that the artwork is an original piece -- to collectors.

What's unique about NFT or crypto art is that it stands to revolutionize the tracking of original art. Because the digital file is contained on blockchain, you can sell the digital original, and it will be registered on the blockchain too. If the person who bought from you resells it, that transaction will also be noted on the blockchain.

What that means is that you have access to the entire transaction history for the piece of artwork that's being bought and sold on the secondary market.

While NFTs containing digital prints or artwork are so far relatively new, it appears to be a pretty lucrative business -- one that can rake in millions if the right buyer's eye is captured.

That happened to a digital artist back in March. Mike Winkelmann, who goes by the name Beeple, sold a non-fungible token of his piece entitled "Everydays: the First 5000 Days" for a whopping $69.3 million -- a record for digital art.

Where do alternative investments go next?

While it's impossible to guess which alternative investment will have the next big moment, one thing is for sure: Alternative investments aren't going anywhere. Investors have seen huge gains in unusual places recently, and there are already hints at new and unique investments that are rolling out.

Whether it's NFT albums -- one of which recently fetched over $11 million for an electronic musician -- or some other tech-related investment, chances are good that we'll see the next Dogecoin and crypto art in the near future. What it actually ends up being, though, is anyone's guess.

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Angelica Leicht has no position in any of the stocks or cryptocurrencies mentioned.

We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Bitcoin and Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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