Last week we looked at eleven Elvis items that received no bids at Heritage Auctions’ April 27 Entertainment and Music Memorabilia Auction. However, there were over sixty items that found new owners, and here are some of the most interesting.
Full-Length Coat with Fur Trim and Cape:
The auction website description of this coat used the words dazzling and fantastic, but they put a minimum opening bid of only $5,000 on it. I knew immediately it would easily pass that, but I didn’t think it would go for $30,000 (including 25% fee for the auction house).
Three bidders battled it out to get this coat, and one reason for its appeal must be the inclusion of two photographs of Elvis wearing it (plus a Letter Of Authenticity from Elvis’ wardrobe valet and friend Richard Davis).
But I think this coat had one more thing going for it – the “cool” factor. Compare it to the Lansky Bros. blue suit shown last week that didn’t get a bid at $10,000 minimum. The suit had major historical significance, as Elvis wore it during his performances at the New Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas in 1956. However, it wasn’t flashy or funky, just a conservative business suit. If money was no problem, what would you rather have displayed as the centerpiece of your Elvis collection – a blue suit or a cool full-length red coat with a fur cape? Funky wins.
Light Blue Suit:
Here is a blue suit that did sell, but just barely. One bidder thought it was worth the $7,500 minimum opening price (plus service fee). The website description is a little cryptic, but it seems Elvis wore this suit on the Louisiana Hayride before giving it to country artist Bob Luman. The suit has spent time in the Country Music Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and in the Stars of Country Music Museum travelling exhibit.
A LOA was furnished, but the clincher probably was that Elvis is shown wearing the suit on the cover of the posthumous Time-Life CD release, The Elvis Presley Collection.
Professional Makeup Case:
Here’s an item the auction seriously undervalued. Estimated to bring $800 and up, it went way up – to $3,750. Elvis gave this expanding make-up case to his buddy Charlie Hodge, who provided the LOA.
When closed, this “EP” initialed case measures 9″ x 11.5″ x 7.5″, but when opened, the three stair-stepping trays extend to a height of 13”. According to Hodge, Elvis used the compartments for makeup, jewelry, prescriptions, etc. Included in the auction lot were Elvis’ used bottles of cologne, Jovan and Hai Karate, plus a blue scarf with “Elvis Presley” printed on it, the same type of scarf Charlie kept on stage and handed to Elvis to give to his fans.
The above photo is kind of dark, but it shows Sonny West carrying the case as he walks behind Elvis. So, this is a strong collectible – “EP” monogrammed make-up case, stage scarf, two bottles of Elvis’ cologne, LOA from a Memphis Mafia buddy, and a supporting photo of a different buddy carrying the case. No wonder it sold for seven times the low minimum bid.
Black Velour Bathrobe:
This regal bathrobe by Christian Dior is interesting, because more people bid on it than any other Elvis item in the auction. Seven people battled it out, but the robe topped out at only $3,000, including auction house service fee. It has the “cool” factor covered, but no photo of Elvis wearing it was provided, keeping a lid on the price. However, Elvis’ private nurse Letitia (“Tish”) Henley provided the LOA. She worked at Graceland from 1968 to 1977, actually living there with her husband for the last four years.
Elvis’ 1962 Financial Statement:
The auction description calls this an extraordinary document, but it’s not a collectible I’d spend my money on. One collector did make the minimum bid and got it for $2,500. Elvis’ 1962 financial statement, prepared by CPAs Spain and Fisher details a few interesting things. His income was evenly split between movies and records, and totaled $13 mllion in 2014 dollars.
Photos of some of the included exhibits were shown on the auction site. This one shows Elvis’ Total Assets, Total Liabilities, and Net Worth as of 1962. One last thing to note, the Certificate of Authenticity came from The Estate of Elvis Presley at Graceland. I guess EPE didn’t think it was worth keeping.
Stage Worn Guitar Strap:
Here’s another item with a LOA from Charlie Hodge. Elvis possibly gave more clothing and other items to Charlie than any of his other buddies. As the auction website states, Charlie was part of Elvis’ inner circle from 1958 until 1977, and he did many functions. In addition to passing scarves to Elvis on stage, Charlie also sang harmony, acted as stage director, and served as Elvis’ personal assistant while on tour. In the latter capacity, Hodge took care of Elvis’ guitars, periodically changing the straps. According to Hodge, this strap was worn during the filming of Elvis – That’s the Way It Is in 1970.
The minimum bid price of just $1,000 seemed low, and bidding confirmed this as the guitar strap topped out at $4,062.
According to the auction website, this light brown leather jacket with coyote fur collar trim is pure Elvis. It must be, because even without a photo of Elvis wearing it, seven bidders ran the price up to $6,875. Elvis’ friend and clothing valet, Richard Davis, provided the LOA, in which he stated, “Elvis liked this style so much that he had it made in different colors.”
The other thing this jacket has going for it is the Lansky Bros. label and a separate label that reads “Custom Tailored for Elvis Presley.”
Complete Set of Elvis’ Sun Records 78s:
Most of us think of Elvis’ five releases on the Sun label as 45s, but the older 78 RPM format hadn’t died out yet, and Sun issued them on this format, too. Collectors of Elvis’ records must have seen this as a rare opportunity to purchase all five of the Sun 78s in one fell swoop. The winning bid came in at $2,500. I’m a record collector, too, and I’ve never even seen all five of them together, so this is impressive.
Chief Deputy Badge for Lee County Mississippi:
This badge is pretty cool, but I didn’t think anybody would bid the high opening minimum. Well, one bidder did and took it home for $6,250 including the auction house service fee. The story behind how the former owner got the badge is interesting. Here’s what the auction website said:
“On September 30 and October 1, 1974 Elvis played in South Bend, Indiana on the campus of Notre Dame University. He and his entourage stayed at the Royal Inn where Anna Niles, worked as a housekeeper, assigned to take care of the King’s room and any associated housekeeping needs. Generous as ever, before he left the hotel Elvis personally thanked the housekeeping crew and signed autographs. Upon his departure, Mrs. Niles discovered a monogrammed leather wallet containing Elvis’ Chief Deputy badge from Lee County, State of Mississippi.”
“Lee County was the locale of Elvis’ birthplace and childhood home of Tupelo. The wallet also contained Elvis’ Police Officer’s Association membership card from Palm Springs, CA. dated 11/30/70. Mrs. Niles attempted returning the wallet to Elvis, but in response to her letter, she received only a fan club Christmas postcard, postmarked November 29, 1974, which is included here.”
So, somebody on Elvis’ staff blew it, and Mrs. Niles got to keep one of Elvis’ cherished law enforcement badges. Forty years later, her husband was able to turn it into some big-time cash.
Custom Embroidered Long-Sleeved Shirt:
We will close with this one last item of clothing, because it has a tender story. After Elvis purchased this gold shirt, his grandmother, who he called Minnie Mae, embroidered an “E” and a “P” on the shirt pocket, with a 45 record image in-between the two initials.
Can you image how many hours Minnie Mae put into this labor of love for her grandson?
The monogrammed shirt sold for $3.750, but we can bet Elvis considered it priceless.
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