Are Stradivarius Style Investment Funds for PANArt Hang the Future?

While buying HandPan, and specifically, PANArt Hang, as an investment, is generally frowned upon within the HandPan community, at time of posting, this hasn’t stopped the price of the most sought after of these instruments from continuing to sky-rocket.  A relatively recent invention, with the first Hang being offered for sale to the public in 2001, Hang that originally sold for as low as $300 directly from PANArt just a few short years ago, now frequently sell for prices between $8000-$12000+ at auction .  With two second generation Hang being snatched up on eBay for well in excess of ten thousand dollars earlier this year; in a matter of hours (the first sold at its buy-it-now price in under an hour) - with first generation Hang sales being not far behind (approximately 800 second generation Hang were produced by PANArt, while first generation Hang are believed to number around 4300 - making second generation Hanghang that bit rarer).

Difficulties around obtaining a Hang directly from the makers, primarily due to supply-and-demand, and the handmade nature of the instruments that allowed for only limited production, drove prices high within the ‘used’ market, almost as soon as the world began to discover their existence (primarily through the viral sharing of YouTube videos, and the like).  And prices have continued to rise ever since.

And with PANArt having announced back in late 2013 that they would no longer be making ANY more Hang, it seems possible that there could be another at least partial explanation, for the ever increasing prices of original PANArt-made Hang - In addition to the ever growing number of musicians seeking to obtain one.

A Sound Investment

In recent years, investment funds, and private investors, have increasingly become interested in ‘top-tier’ musical instruments, as a way of sidestepping issues associated with the volatile equities market, and other investment options, such as the often high maintenance costs associated with real-estate.  With particular interest being shown to rare violins, such as those produced by Stradivarius, and Guarneri del Gesu.  With increasing interest also being shown in sought-after vintage guitars, and other rare instruments of provenance.  

Rare Stradivarius violins have sold with price tags as high as 45 million dollars (and rising), and the most sought-after vintage guitars frequently sell with price tags well into the hundreds of thousands.  For investors, the predicted return on investment sits at around 10% annually on high-end musical instruments.  A percentage that if anything, considering the rocketing increase in prices commanded year-after-year, within the open market, for Hang, since their birth thus far - actually seems to be kind of on the low side.  

And with Hang being not just rare, handmade, and highly sought-after, but also the very first, of a brand new instrument type, they appear to carry all of the marks of prestige, that could attract investors in rare musical instruments to seek them out.

Leading violin dealer David Brewer hazards a guess that half of the world’s 600 or so remaining Stradivarius are sitting in high-security vaults, which, might seem like a tragic fate; if this were to also prove to be the ultimate resting ground of most of PANArt's Hanghang.  But, as somebody who has personally now been in the company of a good handful of Hang that have been badly taken care of by their owners, beaten half to death, or left to rust away, I would guesstimate that a fair number of Hang have already been lost to the world, in the short amount of time that has passed since their relatively recent invention - and as such, I can personally see a certain appeal to the idea of preserving in as pristine condition as possible, at least some, of what will soon become the historical relics of this fast-developing art-form, by whatever means necessary.  Especially, considering that there are now a growing number of more-than-capable makers able to produce quality instruments for the musicians and performers, and knowing that the Stradivarius (etc.) owned by these investment groups, are often lent out for special concerts and performances, to those who have proven themselves gifted and respectful enough to wield them. But maybe that's just me.

Will Hang prices continue to rise? Will the bubble burst? As always, only time will tell...

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