Over the course of two weeks this past January, 17-year old Carson Guo diligently tracked a Sotheby’s online auction. The world’s largest brokers of art, jewelry, and real estate had placed for bidding a collectibles lot of 248 Supreme skate decks—the only full set in the world and incredibly desirable.
Alerted to the auction by a friend who knew the young King George Secondary student was an avid collector of the uber-collaborative street brand, Carson registered and after researching the collection began bidding. His incredible USD800K winning bid was made during a school-day lunch break.
In the world of collecting, Carson was a relative newbie with only five years under his belt.
His father, on the hand, is the world-renowned and much respected Qingxiang Guo, art curator for one of the world’s largest corporations—the Dalian Wanda Group—the chairman of which is China’s richest man Wang Jianlin, long time employer and close friend of the elder Guo.
THE FATHER AND MENTOR
In 2013, Guo arranged the purchase of ‘Claude et Paloma,’ a 1950 portrait by Pablo Picasso of his two youngest children. Expected to fetch between $9M-$12M USD, Guo acquiring it for $28.2M. In 2016, ‘Claude et Paloma’ was loaned to the Vancouver Art Gallery to be displayed as part of a 60-piece exhibition – Picasso: The Artist and His Muses.
As a student living with his family in Coal Harbour, Carson was attracted to the world of street art and streetwear. With fascination and youthful exuberance, he followed major brands such as KAWS, A Bathing Ape, and high-profile collaborations with luxury fashion houses. It was a set of Supreme chopsticks, in a Gastown skate shop, that sparked his interest in collecting. With his wallet USD 80 lighter and the red and white set in-hand, he returned home and tucked them away, heeding the advice of friends who advised him to resist the urge to use them lest the value drop.
Small accessories like keychains followed then larger items like the Supreme canoe. The passion for Supreme is strong, not only for Carson but also his father. When we meet, both are decked in full Supreme looks but with Qingxiang favouring Off-White kicks with his street look. He showed me a photograph of himself with Virgil Abloh laughing together on the street in New York.
Working part-time at a local streetwear shop, Carson quickly realized the potential of buying and selling limited edition items and highly anticipated ‘drops’ to friends and online. When he began following the auction, he had a budget of USD300K-400K, and when it was apparent that the collection would meet and pass that figure quickly, he arranged financing to cover the difference.
When asked which decks are his personal favourite, Guo replies that it is definitely the five-deck group created in 2000 which features Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, with an additional sixth board depicting Jesus Christ which was released exclusively in Japan in 2002.
The Supreme skate deck collection has only been displayed twice in its entirety. First for two weeks during the auction in January at Sotheby’s New York galleries and recently in Shanghai at a class car show hosted by a close friend of Qingxiang’s who felt the collection would add an extra element of excitement to her automobile event.
BIRTH OF A SUPREME COLLECTION
The collection was a passion project of 13-years which saw SoCal entrepreneur Ryan Fuller successfully tracked down the complete Supreme archive produced between 1998 and 2018. Collaborations with influential artists like Jeff Koons, KAWS (aka Brian Donnelly), George Condo, Takashi Murakami, and Damien Hirst produced the buzziest decks.
Always planning on displaying and selling the collection, Fuller says, “The defining moment for me was when I finally secured the very last deck I needed to complete the collection, one out of the five Dan Colen decks that had eluded me for years.” With the collection complete, Fuller brought in his PR person Sandrine Charles and Sotheby’s Noah Wunsch to move forward with the sale of the collection.
For Carson, it was inspiring and fascinating to see how dedicated Fuller was to completing his collection. “I saw the video on Sotheby’s website on the collector and his journey collecting the decks,” he said. The night before the last day of the auction, Carson reached out to Fuller via Instagram. “I could tell he was a cool kid and he was super excited about the decks, I knew that he would really value and appreciate the collection…I wished him luck and told him that I hoped he won,” said Fuller, who has maintained a friendship with Carson.
Starting a new collection is not on the horizon for Fuller who shared with me that with the auction proceeds he will be opening a luxury CBD boutique in Laguna Beach, and developing a mobile app TrailRoulette for the mountain biking/hiking world with a childhood buddy, and world champion bike/BMX rider Brian Lopes.
THE FUTURE OF THE SUPREME COLLECTION
When the collection arrives in Vancouver, the crates will be placed into storage, until Carson’s new streetwear concept store Chaotic Goods launches in spring 2020.
With a 3,000-square-foot retail space secured at the end of Broughton Street, Carson envisions a collaborative space that showcases art and collectibles, streetwear by known designers (Fear of God, Readymade, Chrome Hearts), and his in-development fashion line. The Supreme deck collection will be installed on the ceiling and is “definitely not for sale.”
Educating and exposing young people to art alongside fashion is something that Carson feels strongly about.
“It will be a space for exciting things to happen,” he said having already revealed that collaboration with Hong Kong street artist Michael Lau will be happening.
Although unsure of where he will be in five years, Carson Guo is preparing to attend York University in the fall to study General Arts, developing Chaotic Goods, and searching out the holy grail of collectible Supreme – the iconic Aalto Tank chair.
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Communications, publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, and multiple digital lifestyle blogs. She is a content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist in the luxury lifestyle niche. She is a regular content contributor to Retail-Insider and has a vast freelance portfolio including Boulevard English & Chinese editions, Indulge, and Montecristo Magazine. When not attending high-profile events in Vancouver's 'Luxury Zone’ or on assignment abroad, she is honing her plant-based cooking skills and caring for her firstname.lastname@example.org