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Eager buyers snap up metal memorabilia at auction

Backstage Auctions owner Jacques van Gool envisions that heavy metal memorabilia will compete with the stature of classic rock in the near future.

By Pat Prince

Heavy metal fans, prepare to rejoice. Backstage Auctions’ event that puts the spotlight on metal and hard rock groups is poised to become an annual tradition. The online auction house, which specializes in authentic rock memorabilia, reported great success with its Spring 2012 Rock Gods and Metal Monsters Auction.

“We did our first heavy metal auction about a year-and-a-half ago, and it was basically a try-out, and it did really well for us,” says Backstage Auctions owner Jacques van Gool. “So that’s why we were confident that we could do that again. We did this second one, and we literally doubled pretty much everything. We doubled our sales. We doubled the volume of items sold. And we doubled the number of buyers. When the result is the best auction we’ve done, probably in the last five to six years, there’s definitely going to be a third one.”

The latest event offered 1,200 lots (900 of which sold) with everything from stage apparel to vinyl records, and an array of artists as vast as Aerosmith to Helmet. KISS items, of course, drew heavy bids; a road case, cabinet, amp and speakers reached a combined realized price of more than $17,300. Also noteworthy: a 1981 press release signed by Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads ($3,400); David Lee Roth’s Van Halen stage-worn shirt from 1982 ($900); and a 1990 Pantera fully-signed tour document, with Dimebag’s signature, ($1,266).

Anthrax stage-worn shirt

But the auction house may have been most pleasantly surprised by the final bids on Anthrax items. Scott Ian’s Anthrax guitars, amps and speaker cabinets powered to a combined realized price of more than $16,000. “We had almost 200 Anthrax lots,” he explained, “and a lot of this stuff went for really good money. We sold seven or eight of [Scott’s] guitars, the majority of them for several thousands of dollars apiece. And the small stuff — his guitar straps or his pedals — all did real well. The one thing that really surprised us were his T-shirts. The opening bid prices were very reasonable — $25 to $50 apiece — but we sold many of them into the three digits. We sold a shirt from one of the early Anthrax tours for $600-something. We sold a shirt that Scott himself wore one time — he only wore it at the Best Buy Theater show in New York a few nights before The Big Four show at Yankee Stadium [September 2011] — that sold for over $1,000.”

Van Gool envisions heavy metal memorabilia will compete with the stature of classic rock in the near future.

“The trend I started to see is that while classic rock is still very collectible, it has started to lose some of its power. First of all, the value of all the big names has come down. Demand has gone down a little bit. And the offering of what is out there, it’s not as exciting as it was 10 years ago. Now, we are onto the next generation. And the next generation, now we’re talking about late ’70s to 1980s hard rock/heavy metal — indeed, the Guns N’ Roses, the Mötley Crües, the Iron Maidens and Metallicas of the world,” he said.

Next up for Backstage Auctions: The Classic Rock ’n’ Pop Auction planned for November. For more information or VIP All Access, register at