There was once a time when auctions were the sole province of vintage sewing machines, padlocked steamer trunks, and the widow Douglas’ collection of winsome ceramic squirrels.
Useful? Yes. Glamorous? No.
But why settle for the local drug dealer’s confiscated Cadillac when you could be out sailing the seven seas in Eric Clapton’s yacht? Or roaming the outer reaches of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in one of his well-loved all-terrain vehicles? Or just hitting the highway on Elvis Presley’s 1975 Harley-Davidson? (Only 2,982 miles on the odometer and it comes with the original Tennessee title in Elvis’ name!)
Thankfully, we now have online auctioneers to comb through the walk-in closets and three-car garages of countless celebrities, living and dead, so that our dreams of living like rock stars are just a few well-chosen clicks away.
One of the most impressive such events will be held this coming Saturday, Nov. 28, when the above-mentioned items will be put on the auction block as part of “Artifacts of Hollywood & Music,” an event that the LA-based Kruse GWS Auctions is touting as the biggest entertainment memorabilia auction in the company’s history.
Granted, some of these items can get a little pricey. Clapton’s seafaring vessel, for instance, is expected to fetch roughly $7 million to $10 million.
But this is no ordinary yacht. As the auction’s brochure points out, it’s a “stunning, stylish 47.5m (155.8ft) superyacht built by Kees Cornelissen in The Netherlands, which was acquired by the legendary thrice-inducted rock and roll hall of famer and can accommodate up to 14 guests in 6 luxuriously appointed staterooms.”
In other words, you get what you pay for.
Meanwhile, cosplay fans who’ve outgrown their Sailor Moon and Poison Ivy outfits can dress up like their parents’ favorite pop stars. The auction will offer plenty of pre-owned articles of clothing, ranging from the lace blouse Prince wore on his Purple Rain Tour to a crystal-encrusted Michael Jackson glove from his 1984 Victory Tour.
And then there’s the Jefferson County, Tennessee, police cap worn by Elvis Presley, the law-abiding legend who famously met with Richard Nixon to offer his assistance in the war on drugs.
For those who prefer the view from the cheap seats, there are plenty of other items that won’t put quite as big a dent in your stimulus check.
A starting bid of $100 or less will put you in the running for a pair of red table lamps from Johnny Cash’s bedroom, Tanya Tucker’s black leather coat and knee-high boots, a bed skirt from Elvis Presley’s Beverly Hills home, Linda Ronstadt’s jogging shorts, or Red Skelton’s Mean Widdle Kid Blue Costume. (Wait, how did that get in there?)
Naturally, these kinds of items are typically sold in as-is condition, which makes them that much more valuable.
Imagine, for instance, how much of Kurt Cobain’s DNA is entwined in the fabric of the vintage cardigan sweater that sold for $334,000 last year, setting the record for most expensive sweater in auction history. Worn during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance, it was described by the auctioneers as “a blend of acrylic, mohair and Lycra with five-button closure (one button absent), with two exterior pockets, a burn hole and discoloration near left pocket and discoloration on right pocket.”
“It’s very important that we don’t wash it,” said Darren Julien of Julien’s Auctions at the time. “The stains are still there.”
So when it comes to bringing a smile to the face of that special music fan on your holiday gift list, the possibilities are virtually endless. Just remember that few, if any, of these items are returnable, and not everyone has the same musical tastes. When in doubt, you may just want to do like the rest of us and buy them an iTunes gift card.