Did you know there are folks who collect celebrity hair? I guess it’s a popular enough activity to motivate Forbes magazine researchers to find the highest prices paid for valuable hair at auction. You probably can’t read the results in red above, so here is the ranking, including the years when the auctions occurred.
Elvis Presley $115,000 2002
Che Guervara $100,000 2007
Mozart $53,000 2015
Justin Bieber $40,668 2014
Abraham Lincoln $38,837 2012
Willie Nelson $37,000 2014
John Lennon $35,000 2016
Napoleon $13,000 2010
I can’t conceive how Justin Bieber hair would sell for more than Abraham Lincoln or Napoleon. He’s a young man with many more haircuts to come in his life. Lincoln and Napoleon are long gone, so there is a limited, finite quantity of their hair for collectors. Maybe Bieber’s sale went to a rich young fan with more money than sense.
The top bid for Elvis’ hair occurred at 2am on November 17, 2002, at an on-line auction by MastroNet, a Chicago-based company. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, the hair had been saved by Elvis’ personal barber Homer Gilleland.
The newspaper article referred to a “black hairball” with hundreds, if not thousands, of strands of Elvis’ hair.
Here is an excerpt from the Chicago Tribune article:
“Gilleland, who traveled with the singer to shows, would color the King’s sandy-blond hair black, then cut it into a towel around Presley’s neck… He bundled up the towels with the hair inside and took them home. Then he put the hair into a plastic bread bag, where it stayed until Presley died in 1977. Shortly after, friends said Gilleland began selling strands of the hair at a souvenir shop across the street from Presley’s Memphis home, Graceland.
Before Gilleland died in 1995, he gave a bag of the hair to a friend, Tom Morgan. Morgan, 61, a municipal employee in Memphis, decided to sell the hair this year for his retirement.”
With a winning bid of $115,000, we can assume Mr. Morgan had a very nice retirement indeed.
One other thing in the Chicago Tribune article turned out to be prophetic:
“Some have speculated the hair could be resold, strand by strand, for a profit.”
I decided to check out the sales since 2002 for Elvis’ hair at two auction houses that sell a lot of Elvis collectibles, Julien’s and Heritage. The strands above sold for $418 at a July 2011 Heritage auction, and it came from the Homer Gilleland treasure trove of Elvis hair.
Here are samples of other results.
This went for $1,195 at an August 2010 Heritage auction.
This went for $1,782 at an October 2008 Heritage auction.
This went for $4,160 at a June 2012 Julien’s auction.
It should be noted that all of these offerings of Elvis hair had nicely-done, framed displays with additional photos and text to enhance them. The auction websites stated that the hair was all originally saved by Horace Gillebrand, but do not state if they came from the $115,000 “black hairball.”
There were also additional offerings of Elvis hair from his Army induction haircut at Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas, from haircuts while on duty in Germany, and other places. Plus, there are many other auction houses I didn’t check into. Suffice it to say, there has been a lot of Elvis hair sold in the last four decades.
Let’s finish with an interesting story about locks of Elvis’ hair. Col. Parker ordered that all of Elvis’ hair clippings from his Army induction haircut be gathered up and sent to his fan clubs. One lock ended up at the Tulsa World newspaper, and they used it in a contest. Winner Sybil Coughman completed this sentence “I think the US Army can make the best use of Elvis by…
… letting him give hip exercises to the soldiers to keep them trim and in good shape like he is.”
© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net