Perhaps you saw something on the news last week about Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to “Like a Rolling Stone” selling for $2 million dollars at auction. It happened at the Sotheby’s auction shown above. Many of the news reports also mentioned some of the other big ticket items, including Elvis’ Peacock jumpsuit (design close-up shown in the box above).
There were ten Elvis items offered in this auction – five sold and five did not reach the minimum required bid. Let’s take a look at the losers first, followed by the winners.
1957 Multnomah Stadium Concert Poster:
This is the worst case of overpricing an Elvis collectible, I have ever seen. It’s hard to figure how the owner of this poster for Elvis’ September 2, 1957 concert in Portland thought it would bring between $25,000 and $30,000. For that price you could buy several items of Elvis clothing or a couple of his rings. The poster is not very big, just 11” by 14,” and it has some stains at the top. It is supposed to be very rare, but I guess Elvis poster collectors have been able to buy earlier ones for much less, so they passed.
Concert Ticket Signed by Elvis, Scotty and Bill:
The autographs of the three rock pioneers are on the back of this 2” x 4 ½” picture ticket for an April 19, 1956 appearance at the Oklahoma Municipal Auditorium. I guess the bonus of Scotty’s and Bill’s autographs doesn’t add much value to that of Elvis’ alone. Elvis’ concert tickets from the 50s typically bring a few hundred dollars, and Elvis autographs sell for $600 to $1,400, so it is surprising that no one was willing to make the minimum bid of $1,000 for the combo.
“Softly As I Leave You” Original Handwritten Manuscript:
All Elvis fans are familiar with the spoken word part in the middle of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” but less known is the similar treatment he did on “Softly as I Leave You.” This two-page auction item is Elvis’ hand-printed lyrics to use during his performance of this song at his last Las Vegas stage show. Certainly, it has value, but expecting bidders to shell out $6-8,000 for it was way too optimistic.
America’s New Singing Rage!!! Poster:
The auction website says this poster is from February, 1956, but how can you tell? It is totally generic – no date, no time, no venue. Plus, it is small, just the letter size. You can practically envision Col. Parker travelling with a suitcase of them and posting them around numerous venues. So in spite of the triple exclamation point adorning the title, and the two Elvis pictures, this poster never motivated bidders to shell out the $1,250 minimum bid. Not a good auction for Elvis concert posters.
Autographed Publicity Photo:
Autographed Elvis items always bring more when they are presented in a nice frame. This 1955 item won’t work well that way because Elvis’ signature is on the back. Plus, the 8” x 10” photo has a few deep creases and a thumbtack hole. Possibly not a bad value at $500, but collectors must have been looking for better quality piece that could be properly displayed.
Okay, that takes care of the losers. It’s more fun to see the items that surpassed the minimum bids and found new owners.
Cream-White Soft Wool Jacket:
There was no photograph supplied to verify Elvis wore this coat, but it does have labels saying “Lansky Bros, Men’s Shop on Famous Beale St. Memphis” and “Styled for Elvis Presley.” The cream colored jacket has white satin lining and has red speckling (barely visible in photo). It is in excellent condition. The estimate of $7-9,000 was right on the money, as the jacket went for $8,750 including the 25% auction premium.
Las Vegas Set List:
This is an envelope from the International Hotel in Las Vegas where Elvis performed in 1969 and 1970 (after that, the name changed to Las Vegas Hilton). On it, Elvis hand-printed his selections for one night’s set list of songs to be performed. I was surprised that the pre-auction estimate was so high at $4-6,000, but somebody thought it was worth that and ponied up $5,000.
Red Knit Shirt from Kissin’ Cousins:
This shirt was worn by Elvis Presley during production of the 1964 MGM film Kissin’ Cousins. Inside are two tags: “MGM STUDIO. Culver City” (with the handwritten Elvis Presley and size, production number), and “Sy Devore of Palm Springs.” It is in excellent condition and sold for $12,500. So, why did this shirt go for $4,000 more than the white coat above?
It is because Elvis is shown wearing the red shirt on the Kissin’ Cousins original soundtrack album. The seller included a copy of the album. Smart move.
New Scofield Reference Bible:
This bible has everything going for it except good condition. The photo shows that Elvis studied it repeatedly. Printed in 1967 by the New York Oxford Press, the Bible has “Elvis Presley” stamped in silver gilt in lower left.
The estimate was $8-10,000, but Elvis’ Bible sold for $25,000. Why the big ticket? The thing that probably made the difference were the frequent notes that Elvis wrote in it. This is more than a collectible. It is a look into Elvis’ mind and his thinking on religious topics.
It is tempting to call this the big winner among Elvis items in the Sotheby’s auction because it went for $245,000. After deducting the 25% auction premium from this price, the net to the seller was $196,000. Still pretty good, you say? Not if we look back to an ElvisBlog article dated December 8, 2008. This same jumpsuit sold at a Gotta Have Rock & Roll auction, and the buyer shelled out $300,000. If he netted only $196,000 selling it this time, he took a bath of over 100,000 on it. So, this big winner was actually a big loser. Yikes.
There is one other interesting thing about this famous Peacock jumpsuit. The picture above is from the Sotheby’s Auction website. The one below is from the 2008 ElvisBlog article.
Note they are not the same. Are there two Peacock jumpsuits? No. The answer is that the design on the suit’s back is different than the front.
There’s another rock and roll memorabilia auction coming up on July 16. The previews make it sound like they’ve got some cool Elvis goodies. Stay tuned.
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