Elton John Auctions Off His Belongings
Sep. 06, 1988
LONDON (AP) _ Rock star Elton John threw a high-class garage sale of his treasures at the world's richest auction house Tuesday and cleared more than $700,000 at the first session.
Sotheby's, the auctioneers, said the opening batch of memorabilia fetched double their estimated worth, and an evening sale was disposing of his art deco jewelry. Three more days of sales will see off John's art collection, antiques and furniture, which are expected to fetch the equivalent of $5 million.
John, 41, who says he has run out of room for new things at his mansion, was in Miami, Fla., preparing a U.S. tour. But plenty of fans turned up to bid for his glitzy eyeglasses, zany hats and costumes, diamante-soled platform shoes, pinball machines, Rembrandt etchings and jukeboxes.
Prices soared two, three and four times above estimate for items some art critics have dismissed as junk.
''Buyers were coming out of the woodwork - most of them we had never heard of,'' said Sotheby's spokeswoman Susy Robinson.
The top price of the day was $29,744 for a Wurlitzer jukebox made in 1940 and originally offered for $11,830.
A camisole worn by Judy Garland in the movie ''Meet Me in St. Louis'' sold for $3,346, more than three times the top estimate.
Three signed photographs of the American Apollo 15 astronauts dedicated to the ''Rocket Man,'' one of John's biggest hits, sold for $3,350, when only $300 had been expected.
The outrageous eyeglasses of the pianist-singer-composer were the biggest draw. And the biggest buyer appeared to be Warwick Stone, bidding by telephone from Los Angeles, who spent about $118,000 on items for his Hard Rock Cafe.
The restaurant chain paid the top price of $5,948 for a pair of glasses with blue and yellow lenses in mother-of-pearl frames embelished with rhinestones.
Stone also bought platform boots, a presentation gold disc and a boater with a model of the Eiffel Tower in Paris on top.
The 54-inch-high fiberglass boots worn by John as the Pinball Wizard in the rock movie ''Tommy'' went to British businessman Stephen Griggs for $20,200.
''We thought they would be the ideal thing for the company to use in exhibitions,'' said Griggs, a boot and shoemaker.
An ordinary straw boater of John's from Dobbs of Fifth Avenue, size 7 1/8 inches, sold for $1,400.
Shirley Cowdrey, a British fan, said after paying $8,900 for the rock star's ''Yellow Brick Road'' cream canvas stage suit, embroidered with album song titles: ''This costume is so Elton John I just had to have it. I'll wear it myself if it fits.''
The first of the 290 lots to go was a pencil sketch of comedians Laurel and Hardy, which went for $1,100, against an estimate of $670.
''I knew then it was going to be a good day,'' said auctioneer Hilary Kay, who was on the rostrum for more than five hours, while the sale raked in $711,803.
''It's all such fun. It's attracting interest from people who have never dreamed of going to a sale before,'' said Marcus Linell, the Sotheby's director who organized the auction.
But arts reporter Godfrey Barker of London's Daily Telegraph sniffed that Sotheby's ''looks more like a Miami Beach department store than an art auction house... Art as excellence is quite demode.''