July was a good months for auctions containing Elvis memorabilia items. Gotta Have It had 25 of them up for bidding that closed on July 22, and Heritage Auctioneers had 48 Elvis items in an auction that ended July 29. The first had a generous assortment of Elvis clothing and could be evaluated as a bigger success of the two. So, let’s take a look at the Elvis wardrobe items that changed hands at The Rock and Roll Auction from Gotta Have It.
1969 Return to Las Vegas Outfit:
This black mohair jacket and pants (plus the boots and scarf) attracted the second-most bids and brought in the highest price. The winning bid of $36,772 (including the auctioneer’s premium) was above the expected $20-30,000 range. The reason it was so popular is that this is the outfit Elvis wore when he returned to live shows at the Las Vegas International Hotel in the summer of 1969. It was before the jumpsuits came along, but as the auction website said, “During Elvis’ first engagement in 1969, Elvis’ costumes were more subdued, but Elvis looked the best he ever had, and the suits he had designed for this engagement were simple and stunning.”
Here are two of the hundreds of photos taken during this engagement. Note the red satin kick pleats in the pants foreshadowing an iconic feature of Elvis’ future jumpsuits. Included in the ensemble is the pair of the “Verde” boots Elvis loved so much and wore during the engagement. The buyer also received one of the scarves Elvis wore at that time. However, these were accessories and not used like the ones he would come to give away to screaming fans several years later.
There is no question that this set is the genuine thing. There are custom labels and Elvis’ name in indelible ink inside the coat and pants verifying they belonged to him. In addition, a letter of providence from Elvis’ long-time wardrobe manager, Richard Davis, seals the deal. This is a major, big-time Elvis collectible.
IC Costume Blue Shirt:
This hand-tailored blue shirt received the most bids, and it went for $8,983, a price near the topside of the expected range. Because Elvis never gave the shirt a favorite name, the auction website simply calls it the IC Costume Blue Shirt, named after the store where he got it. The shirt had all the requirements needed to generate bidding interest: a custom label, a color photograph of Elvis wearing it, and a letter of authenticity from his long time buddy Alan Fortas.
Lansky Bros. Outfit:
There was no doubt this suit and shirt combo would go for big bucks. As the label shows, Elvis got it from Lansky Bros. Men’s Shop. He subsequently wore it for all sort of photography sessions in 1956. It even appears in a picture on the back of his first album, Elvis Presley. The happy new owner of this iconic outfit shelled out $25,725 to get it
Jailhouse Rock Shirt (Sort of):
The expected range for this brown, black and gray shirt was $5,000 to $10,000, but it brought only $3,146. The reason can be found in the fine print on the auction website description. Four color variations of this shirt were bought for the movie Jailhouse Rock, but the red version was chosen for Elvis to wear in it. In a nice display of honesty, they even admit that Elvis is wearing the red one in the accompanying photo taken on the set with co-star Judy Tyler. There is no letter of provenance to prove that Elvis ever wore the auction shirt, so bidders were understandably cautious.
IC Costume Shirt, Pants and Belt:
The shirt in this outfit is similar to the other one from IC Costume Co. above, but pants and gold metallic belt are also included. You would think it would bring considerably more, but the whole package went for just $10,631, about half of that expected. I don’t get it. It comes with a supporting photograph taken in front of the Graceland front door, and it has a letter of provenance from Harold Lloyd, Elvis’ first-cousin and Graceland gate guard. This looks to be a good bargain for the lucky bidder.
Shirt, Vest and Pants Outfit from Lansky Bros:
The auction photos all show just the white rayon shirt and the red vest, but the set included a pair of black pleated and cuffed pants. The shirt and vest both have personalized Elvis labels as well as standard Lansky Bros. labels. Publicity photographs featuring Elvis wearing this outfit accompany the lot. The auction website says the photographs were most likely taken during the King Creole film period, but the outfit does not appear in the film. With the photos of Elvis wearing the clothes and a letter of authenticity from buddy Alan Fortas, the three-piece set equaled expectations and topped out at $13,798.
Monogrammed Purple Terry Robe:
You have to look closely to see the EP monogram at the top of this robe. The auction website says it was obtained from Felton Jarvis who was Elvis' record producer with RCA Records. Felton received the robe from Elvis during the Jungle Room Sessions held at Graceland on February 5, 1976. There was no accompanying photo of Elvis wearing the robe, but it was accompanied with letter of authenticity from Elvis biographer, Hal Noland, and it achieved a high bid of $5,445,
Army Shirt Worn in Germany:
I guess this shirt is authentic, but there are several things in the auction website text and pictures that make me wonder. Three shots were displayed showing different printed or stamped images and words on the inside of the shirt. The two below both contain stamps of ownership: Elvis Presley in script and Presley E A in block letters.
The next picture shows inside the collar, and the blow-up shows the shirt size at the top: 14½ – 32. Elvis may well have had a 14½ inch neck back in his Army days, but just a 32 inch sleeve length? Seems pretty short for a guy who was 6’1” tall. I Googled Elvis’ vital statistics but couldn’t find anything on that.
Farther down on the blow-up, we see SP 4 Elvis Presley, a rank Elvis achieved. But, if the rank is printed on the inside of the shirt, why isn’t the insignia sewn on the shirt? Do you think two extra stamps besides the one inside the collar seems like too much?
The thing that put up the biggest red flag for me on this shirt was in the auction website text. It actually said, “Comes from the Vince Everett Elvis Presley Museum in the UK with a signed COA from Vince Everett himself.” If the name Vince Everett sounds familiar to you, it should. That was the name of Elvis’ character in Jailhouse Rock. So, they were offering a certificate of authenticity from a fictional character?
The high bidder thought this was worth $5,069. If I had that kind of money, I think I’d look for less questionable Elvis memorabilia to spend it on.
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