All posts by James Cannon

About James Cannon

James Cannon is an experienced hedge fund analyst. He has served on the advisory boards for various different Fortune 500 companies as well as serving as an adjunct professor of finance. James Cannon has written for a variety of Financial Magazines both on and off line. Contact James at james[at]businessdistrict.com

Famed Marilyn Monroe Portrait Sets New Record

In a record-breaking sale, the famous 1964 Andy Warhol portrait of Marilyn Monroe has sold for $195 million. The sale took place at Christie’s auction house in New York.

While estimates before the event had the artwork priced at $200 million, this auction has set new records for 20th century American art. It is the most expensive piece of American artwork ever sold at an auction. It is also the second priciest auctioned piece of art, after Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450 million in 2017.

The sale of the iconic silk-screen portrait was encouraging for many art dealers. Andrew Fabricant, COO of Gagosian Gallery and a top art dealer, explained: “This shows that quality and scarcity are always going to push the market forward. It will give a bump psychologically to everyone’s thinking.”

The artwork, entitled Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, was painted by Warhol two years after Monroe’s death in 1964. It is one in a series of five versions of the portrait, each featuring a different color scheme. After a woman entered Warhol’s studio and fired gunshots at a stack of the paintings, the portraits inherited their titles.

Since the 1980s, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn had been owned by a Swiss art dealer. Proceeds of this memorable sale will go to charity in support of education and health programming for children.

Neil R Cole Introduced A New Online Shopping Experience

Neil Cole, the award-winning branding pioneer, founder of the Iconix Brand Group changed the way people shop online when he founded Next Retail Concepts, where shoppers experienced an immersive experience online – and could actually feel like they are in the store. We’ve all shopped online – virtually the entire world understands how online shopping works and has probably had some experience doing so during the last two years with the COVID-19 pandemic. What not everyone has been able to enjoy, however, until recently is the immersive experience of feeling like you’re in the store and actively shopping while online.

As Neil R Cole explains, “Our proprietary technology transforms the traditional eCommerce landscape within our innovative platform to create exciting and engaging immersive shoppable experiences that tell a brand story. This is a dynamic new way to shop.”

Dynamic, indeed. Launching the platform originally with Fred Segal and Mastercard, the shopping experience premiered at 29Rooms in Los Angeles and enabled shoppers to browse the physical store at Fred Segal with features that are similar to Google’s Street View. A shopper uses her mouse to virtually enter the store and to navigate throughout the physical space to products that interest her. She can then click on those products for more details and, at times, even see a 360 degree view of the item.

Explaining how unique Next Retail Concepts is, Neil Cole said, “This experience engages the user on a deeper level and tells a better brand story. It’s like a virtual pop-up that you get to navigate yourself through to create a unique, personalized journey.”

The future of shopping has arrived – and it’s certainly looking exciting!

Honda and Sony Collaborate to Build EVs

In an exciting revelation, Honda and Sony have just announced plans to partner up and develop electric cars. The two Japanese companies have not yet announced the name of their upcoming entity. The vehicles will be manufactured in Honda’s facilities and Sony will provide the mobility service platform. Their goal is to team together this year and begin selling the first car in 2025.

While the joint venture is unique, the announcement is not entirely surprising, as there has been an international push for zero emission vehicles as well as systems that provide more advanced features. This gives tech companies like Sony an opportunity to enter the automobile market. Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida reiterated the vision, remarking: “In the joint venture, we would like to lead the mobility evolution by combining our technology and experience with Honda’s long experience in mobility development and vehicle body manufacturing technologies.” When asked about the possibility of others joining the partnership, Honda CEO Toshihiro Mibe responded, “In the future, we would like to expand our business with an open mindset,” while adding that the focus remains on building the electric car model for now.

Brooklyn Commons: For Business and Pleasure

Brooklyn Commons is the new name of the Brookfield Properties 16-acre business and cultural campus between Flatbush Avenue and Jay Street. Once named MetroTech Center, Brooklyn Commons has everything: offices for rent, trendy eateries, cultural programming, lush parks, and inviting open spaces. With an investment of $50 million, three Brooklyn Commons buildings are being overhauled and outfitted with new lobbies, terraces, and retail spaces on the entrance level.

Brooklyn Commons
Brooklyn Commons campus map

The renovations also include Brooklyn Commons Park, the 3.5-acre public park at the heart of the campus. With an ice skating rink that is open now, and new seating and lounging areas planned for the future, the space is already a great option for a day out. Brooklyn Commons also offers cultural programming for the public. The Arts Brookfield program at Brooklyn Commons has a robust schedule of educational lectures, art exhibits, film viewings, theater performances, concerts, food festivals, and holiday festivities.

A Reason to Raise Your Spirits

Beam Suntory, one of the largest producers of distilled beverages in the world, has been working to shift its image to higher-end spirits. Its popular Knob Creek bourbon has sported a new look for the past three years, with an updated label design that has brought back its nine-year age statement, and a new line of 12-year and 15-year versions of the whisky. While prices once ranged from $25 to $50 per bottle, prices are now anywhere from $36 to $200. Following the company’s conscious efforts to step into the higher-end market, international sales reportedly rose 11% in 2021.

CEO Albert Baladi said in an interview: “Two years ago, in 2020, we weren’t as affected as a lot of companies, so the bounce back isn’t as strong as some of the other numbers that you’re still seeing, but still I think double-digits against 2019 is quite powerful.” Baladi continued to explain that the spirits industry generally does well even in times of economic crisis, and that raising prices encourages the company to continue upgrading its beverages. An advantage has been that customers are less sensitive to price hikes made to counterbalance inflation, as they’re pleased to pay more for higher-end drinks.

Ready to tap into another beverage line, Beam Suntory has announced plans to expand its ready-to-drink cocktail line and has partnered with Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer. Although unexpected, this trendy market line has proven lucrative and ranked as the fasting growing of any spirit category, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. Beam Suntory’s premixed brands Sauza and Truly Vodka will be released this spring.