By Susan Sliwicki
Forbes magazine just named Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley the top-earning dead celebrities, respectively, for 2010, but buyers at the recent Gotta Have It! Rock and Roll Pop Culture Auction flipped that equation around.
The King weighed in with 54 lots offered for sale, of which 38 sold for approximately $219,000 total, according to auction results.
Meanwhile, the King of Pop had 30 lots offered, of which 26 sold for roughly $145,500 total. The Beatles, of whom Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney survive, had 94 lots offered. Of that, 59 sold for approximately of $252,000.
Interestingly enough, three of the top four lots sold belonged to dead celebrities — or four of four, if you consider how many times Keith Richards should’ve died by now. The belle of the auction ball was a fuschia pink evening dress worn by Princess Diana’s evening dress, which brought $205,429.20, more than three times the minimum bid of $60,000.
In second place was a pair of black spandex gloves covered with silver buckles that Jackson wore for the “Bad” album cover photo shoot, which sold for $62,256, more than three times the minimum bid. Coming in third: a black leather bomber jacket Richards wore for the Rolling Stones’ album cover of “High Tides and Green Grass,” which sold for $36,000, just $6,000 above the minimum bid but within the pre-auction estimate range. And, in the fourth spot is one of Elvis Presley’s stage-worn jumpsuits by designer Nudie Cohen, which, at $31,800, handily doubled the minimum bid of $15,000 and easily blew past the estimated $20,000.
Other top-dollar lots (and their final sales amounts) included:
• An object drawing and “Aquaplex” drawing by Paul McCartney when he was a student at the Liverpool Institute in the late 1950s, $30,000;
• A Ronnie Wood owned and used, hand-painted “I Feel Like Playing” ESP guitar, $30,000;
• Jimi Hendrix’s custom-made, stage-worn white suede jacket, $30,000;
• Elvis Presley’s owned and worn “Mr. Tiger” Karate diamond ring, $27,354;
• Bob Dylan handwritten, signed and dated “It Ain’t Me Babe” working lyrics, $24,000;
• A Carl-Alan Awards invitation signed by The Beatles and Brian Epstein, $21,792;
• John Lennon’s handwritten poem draft of “The National Health Cow,” $21,084;
• Elvis Presley’s owned and worn IC Costume Company red silk shirt, $19,567.20;
• Elvis Presley’s suede jacket, which he wore at the famous “Million Dollar Quartet” recordings at Sun Studios, $19,800;
• John Lennon and Paul McCartney Earliest Known pair of signatures, 1958, $16,800;
• Elvis Presley’s “Speedway” movie-worn blue jacket with white stripes, $15,972;
• John Lennon signed original Bag One lithograph, $15,031.20;
• The Beatles’ “Let It Be” original white matte RIAA gold record award, $14,152.80;
• The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” original white matte RIAA gold album award, $12,865.20;
• Stevie Ray Vaughan stage-used and signed Fender Stratocaster Elite guitar, $12,298.80.
In addition to the fingerprint card for John Lennon, which FBI agents forced the auction house to withdraw prior to the close of the event, several other big-ticket lots failed to hit minimum bids. Those included:
• Paul McCartney handwritten working lyrics for “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” $200,000;
• Paul McCartney handwritten lyrics and John Lennon signed publishing contract for “Honey Pie,” $110,000;
• Beatles original Diana Dors wax bust from the “Sgt. Pepper’s” album, $45,000;
• A Michael Jackson stage-worn Swarovski crystal-studded riding helmet from the Triumph tour, $40,000;
• Bob Dylan’s handwritten and dated “Song to Woody” lyrics for 1961 first recorded original song, $35,000;
• Elvis Presley’s personally used Gibson guitar (also used in “It Happened At The World’s Fair,”) $30,000;
• The only known Elvis Presley in-performance 3-D slides, $20,000;
• The Beatles’ signed “Beatles Limited” carbon letters, $20,000;
• A copy of the book “In His Own Write” signed and inscribed by The Beatles, Brian Epstein and others, $17,000;
• A cruising Elvis “Pink Cadillac” oil painting by Ralph Wolfe Cowan, $15,000;
• And a Paul McCartney hand-drawn and signed self portrait T-shirt for “Povertee Day 2009,” $15,000.
For related items that you may enjoy in our Goldmine store:
• Buy the brand new edition of “Goldmine Standard Catalog of American Records 1948-1991, 7th Edition”