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ZURICH (Reuters) - Demand for art, watches, rare wines, vintage cars and other offbeat investments that set pulses racing expanded in 2010 as wealth levels of the world's super-rich rebounded from the financial crisis, a report said.
"The value of many categories of investments of passion rose and HNWIs (high net-worth individuals) made acquisitions for the aesthetic and emotional appeal and their potential to return value," Capgemini and Merrill Lynch said in the World Wealth Report 2011 published on Wednesday.
Growing wealth in emerging economies, especially in Asia -- which surpassed Europe in millionaires and wealth last year -- helped spur a revival in markets for these aptly named investments, the authors of the report said.
In times of low interest rates and volatile stock markets, alternative investments allow investors to diversify by buying assets with little correlation to global financial markets, thus offering potential shelter from market turbulence.
Luxury collectibles such as fancy cars, boats and jets accounted for almost a third of these investments in 2010. Chinese demand for expensive cars made by Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari (part of Fiat) jumped last year, the report said.
Individual tastes tend to determine whether a millionaire prefers investing in cars, watches or wine, while artworks are more likely to be acquired for their potential to gain value, the authors wrote.
"Newly wealthy Chinese buyers are widely reported to be keen bidders and buyers at galleries and auction houses, especially to acquire the fast-diminishing supply of works from native artists," the authors of the report said.
Art aficionados seemed willing to pay high prices at Art Basel, the world's top fair for modern and contemporary art, last week, suggesting the art market is returning to pre-crisis peaks.
Meanwhile demand for diamonds as well as gold jewelry and coins benefited from rising prices for these raw materials.
"Record prices for diamonds at international auctions in 2010 exemplified the growing trend among the world's HNWIs to see large diamonds as a safe and high-growth investment alternative," the report said, adding Russian and Middle Eastern investors were particularly keen on the expensive gems. (Editing by David Holmes)