It Happened In Music: Famous auctions
On July 14th, 2007, a pair of glasses worn by former Beatle John Lennon sparked a bidding war after being offered for sale online. The circular sunglasses were worn by Lennon during the Beatles 1966 tour of Japan, where the band played some of their last ever live dates. Anonymous rival bidders had pushed the price as high as £750,000 at online auction house 991.com.
Music memorabilia being bought, sold and auctioned is nothing new–but what are some of the most memorable purchases? After a bit of research, we came up with 10 likely candidates, laid out in all their glory below.
And of course, we’re paying our own brand of homage to this date in music history with a playlist. Subscribe on Spotify to listen on Sonos, or create your own version from the track list at the end of this article.
10. Michael Jackson’s red leather Thriller jacket: The jacket was estimated to fetch around $200,000 to $400,000 but actually got a dramatically higher price and was sold for $1.8 million at auction
9. Lyrics to “Candle in the Wind”: The handwritten and rewritten lyrics for Elton John’s famous song were auctioned off at Christie’s in LA for £278,512 ($419,740) in February 1998.
8. John Lennon’s Steinway piano: Used to compose “Imagine,” the legendary piano, complete with cigarette burns, was auctioned on October 17, 2000 for an impressive £1,450,000 ($2,185,250) to singer George Michael.
7. The most expensive vintage t-shirt ever: An unknown Australian buyer purchased a 1979 Led Zeppelin t-shirt on eBay for $10,000 in May 2011. The rare shirt was printed as a unique way to replace standard backstage passes for one of the rock band’s historic 1979 concerts.
6. Jeff Koon’s Michael Jackson with Bubbles Sculpture: In 1988, Jeff Koons created three life-size porcelain and gold-leaf sculptures of Michael Jackson with his favorite chimp. The last of the sculptures fetched $5.6 million at Sotheby’s auction in New York in May, 2001. Since the “King of pop” has passed, art experts believe the re-sell value has escalated to a whopping $25 million
5. A working manuscript of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony: In 2003, this item sold for more than $3 million at Sotheby’s in London. Beethoven’s original payment for the entire composition was a mere $160.
4. A urinal signed by Pop queen Lady Gaga: The urinal, which is inscribed, “I’m not a f—king king Duchamp but I love p–sing with you,” sold for $460,000.
3. John Lennon’s Rolls-Royce: Coming with psychedelic paintwork, this 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V tour limousine sold for a record sum of £1,768,462 ($2,665,200) in Sotheby’s, New York, on June 29, 1985.
2. Marilyn Monroe’s dress: The flesh colored, backless dress the heartthrob wore when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to U.S President John F. Kennedy was auctioned in 1999, fetching $1.26 million.
1. Justin Timberlake’s leftover piece of French toast: In March 2000, the singer’s half-breakfast food was sold on a website. The seller said that the buyer would get Justin’s “half-eaten French toast, the fork he used, and the plate…complete with extra syrup!” After a total of 40 bids and not even two days on the internet, the French toast was sold for a total of $3,154 dollars… yum.
Bonus: Britney Spears supposed pregnancy test from her ill-fated marriage to K-Fed back in 2005 sold on goldenpalace.com for $5,001. Spears gave birth to her first child later that year.
- “I Wanna Be Loved By You (Mafia Mix)”- Marilyn Monroe
- “Imagine”- John Lennon
- “Beethoven Vs. Vivaldi Remix”- UltraMax
- “Senorita”- Justin Timberlake
- “Poker Face”- Lady Gaga
- “Thriller”- Michael Jackson
- “Dazed and Confused”- Led Zeppelin
- “Gimme Some Truth”- John Lennon
- “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”- Elton John
- “Bille Jean”- Michael Jackson
- “Toxic”- Britney Spears