John Goldberger was interviewed by a shoe company and it's amazing
And here's how bored, rich people are spending their money
The typical Through the Wire that I put at the end of the weekend newsletter was too long to include last Sunday, so I decided to send it out separately today.
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The team over at Morjas Shoes did an amazing interview with John Goldberger. It’s the first time Goldberger’s endorsed a brand, so Morjas travelled to his home in Bologna to chat and shoot some photos.
The entire piece is worth a read, but here’s the clincher:
Goldberger: On another note, the endorsement we spoke about for this campaign: please donate it to Morjas social mission The Shoe That Grows.
Henrik: You serious?
Goldberger: Yes Henrik. Look. I have everything I need. We just finished a good lunch, had good wine and I’m healthy. What more could I ask for? The children in your cause need it much more than I do.
“What more could you ask for?” Of course, they talk clothes, shoes, and watches too, but it’s more fun just reading about Goldberger at home, in his element. Too often, we glorify super-collectors for their collections. To me, Goldberger is worthy of adoration, not because of some rare Cartier or Rolex he has (and to be sure, he does have it), but because of the passage above — the kindness and generosity he displays to those he interacts with (see e.g., the help he provided for Felix from Fred ‘29).
The Morjas guys talk about how Goldberger woke up early the morning of their visit to hit some local shops and pick up his favorite delicacies to make lunch for his Swedish guests, proceeding to cook up lunch in his kitchen. "Seeing Goldberger in the kitchen is relaxing. He never makes a move that is rushed or stressed. His body flows like a dance," they write.
What more could you ask for?
Moving past the groan-inducing headline from the New York Times (of the same family as their previous headline “Watches are yet another easy way rich people make their money into more money”), this article does capture something about the current zeitgeist.
Here’s the lede: “Rich people who shopped too much used to be called collectors. Now they — and those belonging merely to the aspirational class — are all investors.”
Watches are just one way these bored people are spending their cash. Apparently, I have something in common with the EVP of Estée Lauder besides just a preeminent focus on moisturizing:
“All I do is go through watch porn,” [John Demsey, the executive group president Estée Lauder] said. “I’m selling watches, I’m buying watches. It’s crazy. I have no reason right now to buy a watch. I’m at home all day at a computer. Time is staring me right in the face. What reason do I have to look at my wrist? But I want a tangible sign of something, so I’m looking at watches.” And many other people are too.
One reason for surging prices, according to Benjamin Clymer, the editor of the watch site Hodinkee, is that “Switzerland shut down, so demand was there while the supply was dramatically reduced.”
But also, he said, “the wealthy that used to spend money on travel aren’t using it, so everything collectible is skyrocketing in value.”
As for Mr. Clymer himself? He’s off trying to cop rare Porsches, from the sound of it:
That includes cars, a hobby that began for Mr. Clymer in 2011 and took off in 2015, when a multimillion-dollar strategic investment in Hodinkee helped transform him from blogger to mogul.
In the summer of 2020, Mr. Clymer went searching for a 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS.
One had sold shortly before the pandemic through Bring a Trailer for $560k but Mr. Clymer figured it might be a buyer’s market. Perhaps he could get it for less.
He found a beauty from a dealership that hadn’t listed the price on its website. It was in mint condition. Mr. Clymer asked for a quote and nearly fainted upon hearing the answer: $1.2 million.
“I said, ‘You’re crazy.’ Less than a month later it was sold.”
Blogger to mogul. Here’s to hoping writer of an inbox-based-emagazine to tycoon isn’t so far off after all. Here’s the link, if you must.
Speaking of boredom. After an extended retirement, I got back into golf during the pandemic last summer. And I was far from the only one.
Over the past year, stories have started popping up about golfcore and the general trend towards making golf less country club and more anti-country club. Enter ACL Golf, the recently launched site from Michael Williams. With the Masters this week, it felt like the perfect time to highlight Mr. Williams’ new site:
My view on style has always been very simple: wear what makes you happy. Like many things in life, personal style is an evolution. It takes time for us to figure out our preferences and how we feel the most relaxed. My perspective on golf runs on the same track. Just focus on what makes you happy and don't worry about everything else.
And in that, Mr. Williams’ philosophy isn’t so different from Mr. Goldberger’s. ACL Golf’s Letter from the Editor.
A key theme of this ‘sletter has always been cutting through the hype to identify what’s truly you. “Focus on what makes you happy and forget about everything else,” as Williams wrote.
Instead of copying the actual watches a guy like Goldberger collects, this means emulating the way in which he collects them. As Goldberger says in his interview: “I follow two things: my heart and my eye. People have a hard time understanding and believing this, but this is my guiding compass.”
Every day, there’s so much noise and so little signal, it can be hard to tell what’s what. But the people to admire — collectors, writers, whoever — are the ones adept at cutting through the bulls**t.
That NYT piece focuses instead on the noise — the social media, the (admittedly) eye-popping sums people are paying for stuff. By now, it’s easy to write the “rich people are bored at home and spending ridiculous amounts of money on even more ridiculous things” story.1
And sure, it’s true. But the much more interesting story is the one THE TIMES didn’t tell. The signal. It’s the one that Williams, for example, is starting to tell about golf with ACL Golf: people, bored at home, pursuing their passions in their own way. Forget the typical way of doing things. F**k the country club.
A lot of people have stories about why they love the Cartier Crash, the Rolex Submariner, or whatever else, stories that have nothing to do with hype. I believe a lot of them. And a generation ago, that might’ve been what everyone aspired to, the only thing anyone even knew they could aspire to: a Submariner and a country club.
But in 2021? Different is interesting.
Lean into the intersection of what you’re passionate about and what’s different about you. Because if you’re just following the internet, you’re already a step behind.
Watch collecting is still incredibly young. Golf is incredibly old. But both are evolving with the internet in really weird, fun, and exciting ways, allowing people to pursue their passions the way they want to. That’s what I’m excited about.
What more could you ask for?
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3 more things
🛠 The good, the bad, and the ugly of restoration. ⚙️ In-depth: The new Citizen caliber 0200 (very technical and informative). 🌎 The inside story of the platinum Patek ref. 1415 world timer to be auctioned at Christie’s in May. An interesting side note:
This 1415 Patek represents only one watch in a vast collection of over 500 watches that will come to the market in the next 12 months by this one large Asian collector. It is the first time in my memory that such a vast collection has come to the market. I am curious how the market will absorb it. In my mind vintage collectors are more ready then ever, with more capital than ever to buy trophy watches.
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