Managing your assets means much more than checking in with your wealth management adviser. It also means consulting with the pros when it comes to your investments in everything from art to wine to gorgeous timepieces. Go forth and collect wisely.
THE ART CONSULTANT
Holly Baxter is the principal at the art advisory firm Holly Baxter & Associates (hollybaxterandassociates.com) and executive director for the Human Rights Foundation’s (hrf.org) international art program, Art in Protest. She provides independent curatorial and art advisory services, focusing on emerging contemporary art to modern masters across all mediums in primary and secondary markets. “Our aim is to facilitate relationships between artists, collectors, art venues and institutions,” says Baxter, whose San Francisco-based firm assists both new and seasoned collectors. In addition to serving as an art adviser for the 181 Fremont Gallery, Baxter created, launched and directed RH Contemporary Art, the art division for RH, which brings international artists to a global audience via the web and a 28,000-squarefoot gallery in New York City.
Kehinde Wiley, "Apotheosis of Admiral Vettor Pisani #2" (2003, acrylic on canvas), 73 inches by 48 inches by 1.5 inches
THE ART MARKETPLACE
Baxter recommends that new collectors work with an experienced art adviser and spend considerable time learning before making any art acquisitions. “I begin by guiding our clients through galleries, art fairs, museums and artists’ studios,” she says. “I also provide an aesthetic and intellectual education, and assist them in developing a philosophical foundation for building their collection. I also educate our clients about how the art market functions and the components of how an artwork is priced.” All of these efforts, she says, help clients make more informed purchases that stand the test of time.
Visit as many art shows as possible—and start at home. “In San Francisco, we have the FOG Art Fair (fogfair.com), which is quite good,” says Baxter. “I also recommend traveling to Art Basel (artbasel.com) Miami, Paris and Switzerland, as well as the Frieze Art Fairs (frieze.com) in New York, Los Angeles and London and the Armory Show (thearmoryshow.com) and ADAA (artdealers.org) shows in New York.” Bay Area artists whose work she admires include Erica Deeman (@erica_deeman), Chanell Stone (@__califia) and Saif Azzuz (@saifazzuz); nationally and internationally, Baxter closely follows the work of Jadé Fadojutimi (@jadefadojutimi), Flora Yukhnovich (@flora yukhnovich), Caitlin Lonegan (@caitlinlonegan), Jesse Mockrin (@jessemockrin), Moffat Takadiwa (@moffattakadiwa) and Salman Toor (salman.toor).
THE WINE INSIDER
Debbie Zachareas is the proprietor and managing partner at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant (fpwn.com) in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant (oxbowwine.com) in Napa and Mission Bay Wine & Cheese (missionbaywine.com) in San Francisco. She also recently opened her latest wine bar at Chase Center’s Thrive City, Mission Bay Wine Bar. Zachareas is the wine consultant to Izzy’s Steak House in the Bay Area and the Madrona in Healdsburg, as well as a renowned wine judge, lecturer, sommelier and guest speaker throughout the country. This pro has created innovative wine programs that have helped shape the city’s wine culture and won the first Wine Director of the Year award from San Francisco magazine—the only sommelier to win it twice.
THE PERFECT WINE COLLECTION
“Like music, wine is very personal and varied,” says Zachareas, who advises to start a collection with what you love—always remembering that one’s taste is likely to evolve. “Don’t go big in a certain category if you’re new to wine collecting. Wine is about enjoying and not selling private collections, so start slow and continue to learn,” she says. She also advises to buy from trusted sources who want to help develop a personal wine cellar with honest opinions and prices as the foundation. “Also, buy from someone who will get to know you and your palate—and what you want to accomplish. They will become your trusted partner.” Zachareas says the investment doesn’t end with wine: Invest in exceptional glasses. “They make a huge difference. I love Zalto (zaltoglas.at). They’re expensive, but so is the wine you’re buying.”
“There are plenty of ageworthy wines, but collectors love to collect,” says Zachareas, who says not to buy too many bottles that need to be drunk before they’re past their prime. She recommends storing wine at 55 to 58 degrees and maintaining a consistent temperature. “Some collectors in the Bay Area design their cellars with a 9- to 10-degree tilt upward: This is enough to prevent stored wines from damage in a smaller earthquake, while also keeping the wine in contact with the cork.” The wine insider also says she would create different spaces for different types and sizes of bottles. There are many size variations, so for single-bottle storage, she would build two sizes—one for Bordeaux, or thinner-style bottles, and another for Champagne, or wider-style bottles. This will maximize a storage location and provide flexibility for dealing with the inevitable range of bottle types and sizes.
“There are always choices, but everything should start with Champagne or bubbles!” says Zachareas, whose own cellar boasts reds from Barolo, Bordeaux, Rhone Valley and plenty of whites from Burgundy. “I seem to have that in common with collectors who buy from me. If a collector loves Napa cabernet and Bordeaux, that’s usually how the addiction starts. Another hidden fact: Many longtime collectors wish they had purchased more magnums. There’s nothing like a larger bottle for a festive occasion.”
Finally, the wine veteran says she would buy six to 12 bottles of exceptional wines that will age beautifully over many years. “One of the joys of cellaring is to age with your wines and enjoy them on their journey—and yours,” she says.
Jared Silver, president of Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry
THE WATCH PRO
Jared Silver, the president of Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry (shsilver.com), grew up in the business and has been a member of the company’s board of directors since 2012. He combines a well-practiced business acumen with a strong appreciation of horology and gemology. Silver’s adoration of watches began as a teen, when he developed a passion for their craftsmanship and technology. Silver created the business plan for the renowned Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel watch and jewelry boutique, which has been a go-to destination for collectors for a decade.
“I’ll never forget the moment I took possession of my MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual,” says Silver. “This is still my dream watch. It’s just stunning from a visual perspective, with a complicated movement that is completely visible and beautifully finished. It’s also historically and mechanically significant, having redefined and perfected the perpetual calendar movement.”
THE ESSENTIAL TIMEPIECES
“I really don’t think there’s any such thing as a perfect collection of timepieces,” says Silver. “If someone would like to approach the field from a more analytical perspective, I would recommend that they examine what kind of watches they most admire. Is it a certain brand or type? A style or historical period? Some collectors like watches that relate to one another in some way. Others are more personal, which leads to a second screening: You might ask yourself why you like to buy watches. Is it for a fashion-oriented reason? Financial appreciation? Knowing your own motivation will help you focus your efforts. There’s a broad galaxy of timepieces that will satisfy all these different needs, which is something I love about the field.”
For watches that hold their value as investments, Silver recognizes that some people gravitate toward excellent blue-chip brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe. Silver says his boutique has also concentrated its efforts in showcasing the small, independent brands where the owner-founder is still active and on the forefront of innovation. “We feel this is where there is the greatest growth in value and collector interest, which can be seen in recent auction results,” he says. “I’m personally an evangelist for brands like Greubel Forsey (greubelforsey.com), Urwerk (urwerk.com) and MB&F (mbandf.com). These companies are totally original and groundbreaking both in design and mechanics. I think they define the cutting edge in modern horology and will be remembered for years for these historical accomplishments.”
Silver says that purchasing a watch with a high level of quality is much easier these days, as so many brands are producing truly amazing pieces. “I try to provide an additional level of exclusivity for my clients by carrying brands with small production,” he says. “This provides not only a greater level of emotional satisfaction, but also helps their future collectability.” For ensuring longevity, maintenance is essential, and Silver reminds clients that watches are remarkable machines. “Imagine a car engine that had to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he says. “Timepieces work best under these conditions. It’s best to service them every four to six years. Do this and they’ll last a lifetime or longer. We happily provide these services, and enjoy helping our clients maintain and manage their collections, adding—or sometimes buying—watches from them.”
THE PROPERTY GURU
Per Real Trends, Neal Ward (nealwardproperties.com) is the leading individual real estate agent in San Francisco. “Home is happiness,” says Ward, who grew up in the Midwest and founded the SF Compass office in 2016. His success stems from real estate savvy, plus years of experience connecting clients with dream properties in the city.
THE 2023 FORECAST
Going into 2023, where there is concern about market activity, Ward says it’s essential to carefully consider a home or investment purchase. “Our clients are mostly buying their primary residence and tend to purchase for a minimum of five years—but it’s usually more than 10 years—and therefore a downturn in the upcoming months is a wash over the many years that they will own their home,” says Ward, who says neighborhoods in the north and south sides of San Francisco will remain great investment opportunities, since there’s nowhere to grow and high demand.
For investment properties outside of the Bay Area, Ward says homebuyers should connect with a well-respected, knowledgeable neighborhood expert—particularly someone who knows the regulations and limitations for improving a property. “We’ve seen a great deal of investors have success in midmarket cities that continue to grow in the post- COVID landscape,” he says.
“Planning and permitting can always be complicated, difficult and restrictive, depending on where you’re buying,” says Ward. “Some of our out-of-town buyers are shocked when they purchase a property in San Francisco and learn it will take them three to four times longer to renovate than it would in other parts of the country.”
When it comes to commanding higher prices and getting the best return on investment, Ward says the essential factors are views, architectural integrity and scale and volume. “Those are nearly impossible to replicate and are good things to look for when purchasing a home in San Francisco. Additionally, any improvements made to a property should be carefully considered for broad appeal,” he says.
Fashion consultant Theresa Palmer, founder of A Palmer in California
Theresa Palmer is the founder of the fashion advisory group A Palmer in California (@apalmerincalifornia) and has worked with Neiman Marcus (neimanmarcus.com), Liberty London (libertylondon.com) and Loro Piana (loropiana.com), among others. She has counseled countless highend clients over the years and styled covers for San Francisco and Silicon Valley magazines with renowned photographer Tracy Easton.
THE CLOSET ESSENTIALS
When it comes to building a timeless wardrobe and investment pieces, Palmer says to begin with a few questions: What is your style statement? Who are you at your core? What are the words that tell the story of you? “From there, don’t let anything mediocre in your closet, and steer clear of bright colors— neutrals are best,” she says.
For Palmer, closet essentials include Chanel (chanel.com) or Khaite (khaite.com) cardigans, a Loro Piana Storm System jacket, a Herno (herno.com) or Khaite puff jacket, a Max Mara (maxmara.com) camel coat, a Saint Laurent (ysl.com) leather biker jacket and blazers by The Row (therow.com) and Stella McCartney (stellamccartney.com).
Shoes and accessories to pack a closet include Santoni (santonishoes.com) white leather sneakers, Manolo Blahnik (manoloblahnik.com) ballet flats, Jimmy Choo (jimmychoo.com) Romy 60 pumps, Valentino (valentino.com) stud heels, a Cartier (cartier.com) tank watch, Celine (celine.com) trio or bucket bag, Saint Laurent sac de jour bag, a Chanel gold-and-black chain link, Celine (celine.com) sunglasses and Ray Ban (ray-ban.com) aviators.
“A fashion maven once told me, ‘Darling, always buy designer.’ It’s true, they stand the test of time,” says Palmer. “The eye can always tell when clothes are made with the utmost care and with integrity by artisans. Not only that, you stand taller and light up a room. Great fashion represents self and care for the environment. It’s heirloom and what lives beyond you.”
Photography by: VINCENT GOTTI; COURTESY OF HOLLY BAXTER; KEVIN KELLY/UNSPLASH; COURTESY OF STEPHEN SILVER FINE JEWELRY; BRYAN KITTS; TRACY EASTON MAX ANDERSON/UNSPLASH