If you like to follow auctions of rock and roll memorabilia, some of the best are presented by Gotta Have It. Bidding ended March 25 on their Rock & Roll Pop Culture Auction, and it contained about a hundred Elvis items. I planned to do an article on the more interesting ones right after it finished, but several more time-sensitive topics (like April Fool’s Day, the death of Lamar Fike, and stuff in the news) kept pushing the auction blog back. Now, here is a look at items from Elvis’ wardrobe that collectors picked off.
This is one Elvis collectible that would be fun to own. You could easily slip into it and admire yourself in the mirror. You can’t get much closer to Elvis than that. Although he owned six of these Karate Gi’s, this one brought well above the $7-8,000 estimate. It inspired the third most active bidding for Elvis clothing items and topped out at $11,042 (including auctioneer’s fee). The other man in the photo of Elvis wearing it is Kang Rhee, who was Elvis karate instructor for seven years.
Red Jacket, Black Pants and Black Shirt from Viva Las Vegas:
Without seeing the title above, would you know what movie Elvis wore this coat in? You should remember it from Viva Las Vegas, because Elvis wore four versions of this one-button Bolero coat in the movie — black, yellow, blue and the red one offered in this auction. Elvis favored the red Bolero coat for numerous publicity stills.
The auction lot also included the black pants and black shirt, and had the most active bidding of any Elvis clothing item. The pre-auction estimated price of $4-6,000 seemed ridiculously low, and the winning bid of $22,039 confirmed that. The outfit generated more bidding than any Elvis item in the auction.
The coat is size 42, which is no surprise, but the pants had a 32” waist. Elvis was still one trim dude back in 1963. The long sleeve black silk shirt bears the “Jerry Rothschild, Beverly Hills” label with “Elvis Presley” handwritten on the label.
According to the auction site, “Seldom does a complete movie worn outfit come to market. Elvis loved the movie-style outfits and he took all of them home with him after finishing a film. A photo of Elvis wearing the yellow version of the bolero jacket in front of his piano in the music room at Graceland accompanies this lot.”
Denim Jacket from Stay Away Joe:
This jacket went for $5,100, which was only about half of the estimated price. Perhaps some bidders were skeptical about it, because just one year earlier a Stay Away Joe outfit of jacket, pants and yellow shirt went for $41,434 at another Gotta Have It auction.
Why would the winning bidder of that lot split up the set? However, the labels inside this jacket say “MGM Studios” and Elvis name, so maybe there were several of them. Perhaps, that would also reduce desirability to this year’s bidders.
Leather Jacket with Coyote Trim:
This jacket had a lot of bidding activity, but it still topped out at just $4,569. The auction website explained that Elvis had purchased at least three custom-made versions of this coat from Lansky Brothers in different leather colors, including black and white. However, they were unable to produce a photo of Elvis wearing the brown version, so the white model was shown. Too bad, because that probably kept the final price down.
Khaki Jacket from Live A Little, Love A Little:
Elvis wore this light-weight grey jacket in several scenes in the movie, and the auction offered many photos of him wearing it. On top of that, the labels inside bear the name MGM Culver City Studio, the production number of the film, and Elvis’ name and size. A letter of provenance from Elvis’ buddy Charlie Hodge was provided, too, so with all that backing up the jacket, it went for $5,148.
Blue Shirt with Yellow Scarf:
This hand-tailored navy silk shirt was very popular with bidders, and the final price of $13,682 more than tripled the pre-auction estimate. It came with several photos of Elvis wearing it, which could be incorporated into a nice display case.
Black Velvet Kaftan:
This beautiful long velvet kaftan features heavy gold embroidery down the front, arms and back. It had a lot of bids and brought in $6,229, but this price indicates that collectors are unwilling to shell out as much for Elvis collectibles in today’s harder economic times. Last year, Gotta Have It also offered an Elvis kaftan, and it brought in $9,214.
Both kaftans would have probably brought in higher bids if any photos of Elvis wearing them had been provided.
White Doctor’s Coat from Change of Habit:
This cotton long-sleeved doctor’s coat is one of many wardrobe items that Elvis kept after the filming of his movies were completed. It sold for $4,153 and is not as impressive looking as some of the others, but the new owner can tell an interesting story when he shows it off. According to the auction guide, “Elvis played the role of Dr. John Carpenter, a doctor from Shelby, Tennessee who runs a free clinic. After the film wrapped, Elvis chose his character’s name as one of his favorite aliases when making reservations for hotel and airlines. When he traveled to Washington D.C. later in 1970 for the famous meeting with President Richard Nixon he used the name “John Carpenter” for the American Airlines reservation.”
Copper and Brown Satin Dressing Robe:
Another in a never-ending line of clothing selections Elvis purchased at Lansky Brothers clothing store in Memphis. Note the initials above the left breast. According to the auction guide, “Joe Esposito recalls Elvis coming downstairs in his Beverly Hills home “looking like Hugh Hefner.” Joe and hairdresser Homer Gilleland both provided letters of provenance, and the robe/smoking jacket went for $5,271.
Although no photograph of Elvis wearing these pajamas was provided, they have the initials “EP” embroidered onto the left chest pocket and laundry tags with Elvis’ name stamped onto them sewn into the pants. These pajamas come with a letter from Elvis’ very good friend, valet and wardrobe manager, Richard Davis. The top bid on these pajamas was $2,835.
Red Velour Shirt from Girl Happy:
This shirt did well in the bidding and went for $8,216. According to the auction website, Elvis gave the shirt to Homer Gilleland, and it came with a letter from Homer as well as a photo of Elvis wearing it in the movie Girl Happy. I wondered why the picture was in black-and-white even though the movie was in color. So I got out the DVD to screen capture the shot as it appeared in the film. Look what I found:
Uh, Ooh. The shirt in the movie is actually blue. You sure have to be careful when you bid on Elvis stuff at these auctions.
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