To say Pharrell Williams has accumulated a lot of stuff in his two decade-long music and fashion career is an understatement. That’s why the Grammy award-winning artist is creating a global digital-first auction house to sell off his sizable stockpile of collectibles, ranging from Stan Smith sneakers embossed with 1,600 Swarovski crystals to collaborations with his streetwear brand Billionaire Boys Club (BBC).
Launching this month, Joopiter will focus on rare cultural artifacts and their stories. The inaugural auction, “Son of a Pharaoh,” is a collection of 52 iconic pieces curated by Williams, many of which are one-of-a-kind and were made with input from the pop and R&B musician himself. Available for public viewing by appointment in New York on October 14 and 15, the selection includes Jacob & Co. pendants, a Louis Vuitton monogram trunk, and even a varsity jacket from Williams’ high school alma mater that he frequently wore in 2003 and 2004.
“The idea behind Joopiter is to embrace the energy that is released when objects change hands, and to respect the value that’s been created around these objects,” the 49-year-old founder said. “Joopiter is a new platform for myself and for my fellow curators, one where existing and future generations of collectors can feel welcome to take part in this exchange.”
The budding platform enters a fragmented playing field that includes prestige storied houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s as well as newer resellers like Depop and Poshmark. But perhaps what sets it apart, besides its access to Williams’ personal items, is its focus on community. Described as “a place for everyone to discover and explore,” Joopiter features bespoke video content to connect viewers to the auctioned objects. Additionally, proceeds from sales will be used to support Black and Latinx entrepreneurs through Black Ambition, the star’s non-profit initiative.
The question now is, will Asian and Chinese collectors bite? No doubt, Williams and team will be keeping an eye on some of the world’s largest auction hubs. In 2021, China became the world’s second-largest luxury market, as well as the second-largest art market (both after the US). The country has also gained billionaires at a faster pace than the US while the number of millionaires is expected to grow by as much as 80 percent by 2025.
Asian consumers are also known to splurge on high-profile collaborations. Just look at the sky-high resale value of the Louis Vuitton x Supreme capsule or the craze around the Panda Pigeon Nike SB Dunk when they were first dropped in China. Given this love of luxury streetwear and sneakers, auction items that could spike particular interest from Asian buyers include the Louis Vuitton x BBC trunk and the Stan Smith shoes.
Plus, it helps that the American talent has built a solid reputation in China, despite lacking an official social media presence. Not only has the “Happy” singer performed at high-profile events like Alibaba’s Singles Day gala in 2017 and the debut Grammy Festival in Beijing in 2018, but Pharrell has also created China-exclusive designs with the likes of Adidas. Meanwhile, his BBC label has expanded to Asia with pop-up stores in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as a presence on Farfetch and leading youth fashion retailer Yoho!Buy.
While Chinese collectors have their share of auction platforms to choose from, none are quite like this. As Humphrey Ho, managing director for Hylink Digital USA, succinctly put it: “Chinese consumers like exclusivity, unique products, and Pharrell Williams in that order. Therefore, I believe that Pharrell Williams’ new global auction platform Joopiter has a chance.”