Michael Jackson, Woodstock Spark Surge In Memorabilia

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

Death and nostalgia are proving to be a money-making opportunity for music memorabilia collectors and big auction houses who are hawking everything from Michael Jackson's iconic white glitter glove to old ticket stubs from rock's legendary Woodstock festival.

Indeed, the sudden and tragic death of the King of Pop along with news shows commemorating the 40th anniversary of Woodstock have triggered a surge in the number of music fans frantically scouring the internet and auction houses for anything and everything related to these events.

And for some sellers, it's been a windfall...

... Savvy music collectors, who began snapping up rockers' guitars, autographed albums, books and other items in the '60s, '70s and '80s are seeing the biggest gains as many were able to buy items at bargain-basement prices before the internet and sites such as eBay moved memorabilia collection into the mainstream. Baby boomers are driving the growth.

"I hear the same story over and over — they had bands when they were growing up but gave up their dreams of being rock stars themselves to get a job and make money, and now that they have it, they're kind of recapturing their youth through the instruments and articles of their icons,"says Laura Woolley, an entertainment memorabilia appraiser at the Collector's Lab.

For this reason, it's items associated with bands such as the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Cher, and the Rolling Stones that have seen the biggest increase in value, Woolley said.

In 2000, the piano on which John Lennon composed "Imagine" sold for 1.5 million pounds, far surpassing the 20,000 pounds it fetched 25 years earlier, noted Neil Roberts, head of culture at Christie's Auction House in London.

Sometimes it's the quirky items that grab the most attention.

A group of nine prescription pill bottles owned by Elvis sold for between $3,000 and $7,500 apiece during a June auction. "It's a little macabre that people are interested in bottles of pills that were responsible for his death," said Woolley. Observers expect a similar feeding frenzy will likely surround Jackson's medication bottles.

In 2000, Maestro Auctions sold a jar of Elvis' hair from his barber for $115,000, recalled Dunbar...

... During the June Michael Jackson auction, a signed Jackson 5 album was expected to bring in $400 to $600, but wound up getting more than $27,000. "I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that was an emotional purchase," says Woolley.

When an estate sale was held following Johnny Cash's death, it grossed $4 million. "If those pieces appeared now at auction, I think it would be difficult to sell them for exactly the same price," says Roberts. "The whole euphoria of an estate sale [often makes] people get carried away."

However, if a flood of similar items, such as a doll or poster, show up on ebay at the same time you're readying to sell, it's best to wait. "You never want to put a piece of memorabilia on the market when there are five more just like it," says Woolley. "If it were mine, I'd hold onto it."

comments powered by Disqus