Billions and Billions and Billions
A few weeks back, I clicked on a link that would let me in on an investment opportunity that’s taken the world by storm. Those who invested as little as $500 just a couple of years ago were now multimillionaires, and apparently I’d missed THE greatest investment opportunity of my life. Rather than scour the jungles and old warehouses of incense manufacturers in search of diseased wood, I could’ve sat at home, put all my money into Bitcoin, and been a multibillionaire today.
The crypto experts argue that the technology Bitcoin brings will revolutionize money in the same way the internet has revolutionized nearly every aspect of our lives. And those who bought Bitcoin early are apparently the ones who had the correct insight into this. Today, they don’t need to worry about retirement like you and I.
You can imagine how stupid the whole thing made me feel. Here I was, inhaling dust and trying to teach the world about Oud, while some internet savvy kids were sitting on millions just for buying $500 worth of Bitcoin.
Why I Buy Oud
I have invested millions of dollars into Oud. In addition to the dollars, I’ve invested something far more expensive and impossible to get back—my life. And I thought I was quite smart for doing so.
Some folks are happy buying shares in other people’s companies that they never visit. Some don’t even know the details of what they’re buying and are happy leaving it up to their ‘advisor.’ In the end, that’s what everyone else does.
Not me. Unless I’m personally in control of my investment, tangible assets in hand, I would probably not be able to sleep at night for fear of a sudden stock market ‘correction’ that wipes all of my life’s work away. (Didn’t something like that just happen last week?)
So Oud it was. Oud made perfect sense. On many levels.
For one, the way I saw it, the entire world operates on a system of mass slavery that we’re not even fully aware of. Governments control us. They control our earnings, our savings, our properties. They tax everything we touch, from our labor to our food, the houses we live in, to controlling what we’re able to do and not do with our wealth. As a US citizen, your being under the ‘yoke’ of Uncle Sam is quite apparent when you try to open a foreign bank account and see the disclaimers in every direction: ‘Tick this box if you are a US citizen.’
“Me? US citizen? Why do you care? Isn’t this Singapore?”
You can’t even buy stocks, or gold and silver, on many online stock exchanges if you’re a US citizen. Ironically, the nations with the most rampant amount of debt are the ones that impose the most stifling capital controls on their citizens.
‘Civil Asset Forfeiture’ laws are another example. Under current legislation, any government official can seize the personal effects of any individual they deem ‘suspicious.’ All they need to do is say they think you could be involved in criminal activity, and that gives them the right to wipe you clean of everything you have.
Which government official would be able to appraise Purple Kinam? Or tell the difference between it and patchouli? You could potentially cross international borders with millions of dollars worth of Oud in your suitcase. No duties. No routine interrogation at customs. Just a nice essential oil collection…
A 10% Windfall
I know a lot of money savvy people, and the thing with all of them is: Figure out how to make 10%, and you’re doing fabulous. The stock market delivers 7% a year on average, which amounts to doubling your money each decade. This is what they consider to be a proper windfall.
On the other hand, even minimal ROI on collectible Ensar Oud bottles has given owners 25% – 50% returns—something investment strategists generally write off as a miracle. Making even half of that on my end of the deal, you can see why I had good reason to consider myself savvier than most stock brokers.
But how in the world would I be able to content myself with 25%—or even 50%—when these crypto creeps were making over 1,000% on their money in a matter of months? You can imagine, given the enormous investment I’d made into Oud, how unlucky the whole thing made me feel.
I mean, how stupid! Here I was, my guts in my mouth flying through turbulence in search of decayed wood, coughing up dark sputum and sleeping in the proximity of the creepiest things you could imagine, while some yuppie techies were making a proper killing sitting at home, with an infinitesimal fraction of the investment.
I felt that I’d missed out BIG. Until I took a closer look…
As a long-term investment, everything hedges on the potential of cryptocurrencies becoming a mainstream medium of exchange. I’m not going to muse about the chances of it happening or not happening. But you have to understand that right now it is pure speculation. That’s why some people can make a killing, while others invest themselves into the poorhouse.
The bleak reality of it is, had I invested anything when it reached a peak of close to $20,000 per Bitcoin—which is exactly when I began speculating—I’d be sitting on some catastrophic losses right now.
Bitcoin and all other blockchain currencies might well be a dress rehearsal, or ‘smokescreen,’ as many are suggesting… Facebook just announced a ban on all advertisement for cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin. Google might follow suit. (Or have they already?) You can imagine how that will hit the influx of new buyers and the resulting drop in crypto prices.
Whether Facebook will come out with their own coin is up in the air, or whether it’ll be Israel that eventually comes out with a single crypto sanctioned by the banks to finally inaugurate a one-world currency. We don’t know. But I do see a red alert flashing.
You might follow your gut and strike it lucky, but it’s impossible to predict the long-term prospects of cryptos. Any claim about it hitting $50K is as valid as someone who says it’ll crash to $20. If you want to make money through them, you must accept that cryptocurrencies are super short-term gambles with, at best, a dubious future.
Most of those who were going to make it big likely already have, while those who invested during the last few months are probably taking medication by now.
When I wrote Oud or Bitcoin? Bitcoin had all but hit $20K. Now, at the time of writing, it has plummeted to $6K… after having recovered from $4K… within 4 days [Edit: 12 hours later it has dropped back down to $5K].
If any of the smokescreen theories turn out to be accurate, practically all cryptos you sit on today will be defunct, or at best worth way less than what you paid for them.
Naming Hong Kong
Many finance gurus have ads in which they predict the rapid rise of crypto prices in the near future. But remember this: Statistically, investing into any start-up is a major risk, no matter how innovative you think the idea might be. For every Google that made it, thousands drowned.
In explaining current trends and prophesying about its future, even high-profile consultants get fooled by randomness, each thinking they have solved the puzzle, where there is no puzzle at all.
Of all the thousands of highly paid financial advisors and economists, how many predicted the housing crisis? Ask any of today’s kyara tycoons if they invested in it because they foresaw its skyrocketing? None of them could have imagined it. Their stashes of kinam were merely part of a larger collection of ‘regular’ agarwood, which they later separated. Not long ago, Nha Trang was just another jungle. Who thought people would forget why Hong Kong was named that? If I knew what it would cost me to produce Royal Kinam today, I would never have sold a drop.
Ask anybody about the worth of that Rembrandt, or an original Eliot manuscript. Rightly, many such works don’t even have a market—they stay in the museum. And that’s the way of tangible, limited rarities. Someone sees it and intuitively says, “That must be worth a fortune.”
There might only be 21 million Bitcoins to mine, but what about the thousands of other cryptos? There is only one Oud Zachariyya in existence. For love or money, we can’t go back in time and find the same trees again. We can’t re-age the bottle for a decade, either.
Unlike the future of company stock or the latest crypto, the future of artisanal oud is much more defined: There are no more wild trees standing, and low-grade cultivation is the future. If you have quality vintage Hainan oud, chances are it will be worth quite a bit more than what you paid for it.
We sold Oud Mostafa six years ago for $550. Oud Zachariyya is two years older and selling today for less than that—$479.
Oud Mostafa has since sold for $2,500+ on the resellers’ market. So has Oud Idrees (also younger than Zachariyya). Likewise Kyara Koutan and Kyara LTD, now easily worth 500% their original price tags.
Everyone who recently bought a bottle of China Sayang (now sold out) immediately pocketed a 20% profit. Nobody else is offering wild artisanal Chinese oud, not to mention 13-year-old Chinese oud.
Crypto is a buy-now, sell-in-two-hours approach. It has worked out well for some and has financially destroyed others. And it will continue this cycle until Facebook (i.e. Rupert Murdoch) or Google or Israel, or who knows, even JP Morgan or Goldman, has the final say on the matter.
All I know is that after sobering up from my crypto fever, I’m now thankful to have drops of artisanal oud instead of bits of binaries in my portfolio. I could have turned $500 into a lot more—or I could have invested $50,000 and lost it all.
Instead, I was an early oud investor and that’s why I’m able to undercharge and still make a profit, something 99% of distillers can’t do (more about this later)—why they don’t have this caliber oud, not to mention at such prices.
So, I’m content with olfactory artworks that are not only a robust store of value but appreciate by the day, assets I doubt the tax man will care to touch when I pass them on to my heirs; that I can transport without hiring a moving crew, and that I can, lest you forget… swipe and smell amazing!
If you’re ready to own the rarest ouds ever distilled, I’m sure by now you’re wondering just how we’re able to offer oud that’s worth $2,500 for only $479. I’ll share the details in an upcoming article, but for now here’s your chance to own a bottle of oud that won’t be around by the time that gets published: the oldest Burmese distillation in all of Ensar Oud’s archives.