The highest-seller at an auction of music memorabilia this past weekend was expected to be the crypt of Elvis Presley, but when the King of Rock & Roll’s tomb was pulled from the Beverly Hills auction, the King of Pop’s memorabilia took top billing.
On the eve of the third anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, MJ memorabilia sold in Julien’s Auctions’ “Sports Legends and Music Icons” auction on June 23rd and 24th fetched as much as $50,000. The item in question: One of Jackson’s “Moonman” statues from the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards (for his iconic “Thriller” video, which won the Viewer’s Choice Award at the inaugural VMAs). Fetching just a little less than that were MJ’s handwritten lyrics for 1983’s “Billie Jean,” which sold for $40,625. A Roberto Cavalli jacket signed by the King of Pop also sold for $24,320, among other items.
Fellow ’80s icon Madonna was also a top-seller, with her barely-there tour-wear receiving much attention. A negligee worn during her 1990 Blonde Ambition world tour sold for $34,375, while another undergarment she wore on stage nabbed $13,750. Madonna’s iconic cone-shaped bras have previously broken auction price records, fetching $20,000+ on more than one occasion.
A drum kit from Rush’s Neil Peart also sold high, fetching $35,000, while a Gibson guitar belonging to David Bowie went for $35,200.
Whitney Houston memorabilia sold well, with the singer’s 1986 Grammy dress and a performance jumpsuit fetching $20,480 and $10,240, respectively.
Beatles memorabilia was popular at the auction as well, with a Beatles-signed check and John Lennon’s handwritten immigration card both going for $6,400. For once, however, the Rolling Stones beat the Beatles, with a t-shirt belonging to Stones guitarist Keith Richards fetching $7,040.
Fan protests over the sale of the crypt where Elvis’ body temporarily resided may have forced the tomb out of the auction, but other Presley memorabilia remained. His motorcycle jacket and pants that sold for $41,600, a necklace with his initials fetched $31,250, and his star ruby and diamond ring went for $21,250. A lock of Elvis’ hair fetched far less at a mere $4,000 – a steal of a deal.
Elvis’ crypt at Memphis’ Forest Hills Cemetery was set for an opening bid of $100,000, but auction organizers decided to pull it from the sale at the last minute. Darren Julien, the president of Julien’s Auctions, said his auction house won’t sell the crypt “until Forest Hills finds a plan that best suits the interests of the fans while respecting and preserving the memory of Elvis Presley.” Julien explained in an interview with K-EARTH last month that he was contacted by the cemetery to sell the crypt, which has been empty since late 1977, when Elvis’ body was moved for permanent burial at his Graceland estate.
A list of the 944 items sold at Julien’s Auctions’ “Sports Legends and Music Icons” auction in Beverly Hills can seen here.
– Jillian Mapes, CBS Local