Let’s buy some Saudi art

Welcome to The WC — your weekly shot of awesome.

Today, we’ve got:

  1. The curse of optionality
  2. Fake people, real money
  3. The fall and rise of Saudi Arabian art
  4. Market timing doesn’t work
  5. RIP Charlie
  6. Link dump

The curse of optionality

Despite overwhelming evidence that everyone’s quality of life is better today than any other time in recorded history, people are more depressed than ever.

Up and to the right

Jack Raines, the guy who edits Exec Sum, has a few ​theories​ why.

All his points are compelling, but one stuck out to me — we have too much optionality.

Historically your options were limited by where you lived and which family you were born into. If your dad was a baker in a small French village in 1623, you had a pretty good idea of what your life was going to be like.

But today, we can theoreticaly live anywhere we want, pursue any career that takes our fancy, and build a family (or not) with an overwhelming pool of partners.

So we spend a vast amount of time wondering if we’ve made the right choices or if we’d be happier with the surfeit of other options available.

The FOMO is a dagger, and I think it’s going to get worse.

Fake people, real money

Related…if real humans don’t tick all your boxes anymore, AI is here to help.

Just in the last couple days, I’ve come across three different examples of AI replacing humans in perhaps unexpected ways.

First, there’s Anna Indiana, the virtual pop star whose mission is to produce a 24/7 stream of decent music without human intervention.

So far it’s pretty terrible, but it’ll probably improve quickly and spawn copycats.

Then there’s ​Aitana Lopez​, an AI fitness influencer with over 150k followers in Instagram that generates over ​$10k a month​.

This is the most SFW photo in the pretend influencer’s feed.

And finally, yesterday I spoke with Rohit Bhargava, CEO at ​One Future Football​.

It’s a football (soccer) league comprising 100% fictitious teams and players. The teams play out abbreviated seasons, and fans can watch the games on YouTube. Nearly 8k people watched a pre-season match between Inter Nusantara and Paris St-Denis.

Each team is backed and promoted by real life stars like Patrice Evra and Nick Kyrgios.

All three of these projects aim to improve on our experiences in a way that real–flawed–humans can’t.

I don’t know where this ends.

The fall and rise of Saudi Arabian art

I was corresponding with a community member the other day, and he shared a theory about where to invest in art.

He’s looking specifically at “important art” from developing countries.

Which got me thinking about, as ever, Saudi Arabia. Given the country’s push toward legitimacy, it would make sense the Kingdom might want to support art to increase its cultural influence and reduce its reputation for repression.

And so it goes.

Search volume for Art in Saudi Arabia since 2004.

While the Saudi art scene suffered badly in King Abdullah’s years, it’s made a comeback since 2020.

Records are falling.

A museum is ​exhibiting​ Andy Warhol.

And a London publisher is coming out with a ​book​ dedicated to the Saudi contemporary art scene.

While it’s typical for an artist to have powerful benefactors pulling the strings behind the scenes, never has an entire country ​got involved​ with such a clear imperative to drive up prices.

All of which tells me Saudi art is probably a good buy right now.

If you agree, you can check out this ​list of Saudi artists​.

Before you do, check out these cautionary words from Nicho, our art broker:

I love your thinking here and the logic is good but there are lots of variables which make it an insecure investment. It will be hard to predict who will become the biggest blue chip artists…so it would be very risky to invest there at the moment.

Generally speaking, the art world is quite a liberal place, in my experience the artists who become blue chip from more authoritarian countries tend to be ones who rebel and are embraced by the established art world (Ai Wei Wei, Pussy Riot etc..)

While we’re here, severl bits of Saudi news dropped today:

  • Saudi Arabia will ​host​ the prestigious 2030 World Expo.
  • Saudi Arabia’s PIF has ​bought​ a 10% stake in London’s Heathrow airport
  • You can now ​invest​ in a Saudi ETF.

If you pick up a piece of Saudi art, please share.

Market timing doesn’t work

Everyone wants to buy low and sell high, but there’s a problems with that strategy:

It turns out people are really bad at knowing when prices are high and low.

In fact, it’s reliably impossible to predict when to buy and sell.

Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) ran ​backtests​ on over 700 multivariate strategies, and only 30 of them produced excess returns. Not great odds.

Right, fine, so just focus on and execute those 30, right?

Except the specific variables that produced excess returns were fairly arbitrary, and even a slight modification reduced profits or led to losses. Basically those 30 winners just got lucky.

The only ​reliable​ strategy? Buy, hold, and forget.

RIP Charlie Munger

A lot will be said about the legendary investor, architect, and philanthropist today, and much of it will be more insightful than anything I could put to paper.

So instead of trying to be clever, I’ll let the man do that himself.

Bonus Links

Some excellent stuff I came across this week that didn’t quite make it in the WC:

That’s all for this week; I hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers,

Wyatt

Disclosures

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Author

Wyatt Cavalier

Wyatt Cavalier

With a background in finance & intelligence analysis, Wyatt has an unhealthy obsession with finding the best blue chip investment opportunities. His previous newsletter, Fractional, resonated deeply with subscribers, bringing actionable insights and unconventional trading strategies. His rare book collection specializes in banned editions. He currently lives in Spain with his beautiful wife, three young boys, and dog Monty.

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