Fu­ture of Elvis jets no longer up in air: es­tate

The China Post - - ARTS -

Elvis Pres­ley’s two per­sonal jets are stay­ing at Grace­land, his es­tate said Mon­day, end­ing months of jit­ters among his le­gion of fans that they were about to be sold off.

The Lisa Marie, a vin­tage Con­vair 880 air­liner, and Hound Dog II, a Lock­heed Jet­Star ex­ec­u­tive jet, have been on dis­play at the late King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s es­tate in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee since 1984.

But un­til now, their fate had been up in the air af­ter they were put on sale by their own­ers, which ex­hib­ited them at Grace­land in re­turn for a share of ticket pro­ceeds — trig­ger­ing an up­roar among loyal Elvis fans world­wide.

In a brief state­ment Mon­day, Grace­land said “an agree­ment has been reached for Elvis’ two air­planes ... to re­main at Elvis Pres­ley’s Grace­land in Mem­phis per­ma­nently.”

It did not elab­o­rate, but Pres­ley’s daugh­ter and sole heir Lisa Marie Pres­ley hinted on her Twit­ter feed that Grace­land had ac­quired the two air­craft, which are no longer in fly­ing con­di­tion.

“Ex­cit­ing news! ... The planes will re­main at Grace­land 4 ever! We own them and have fun plans for them as well,” she said.

For de­vout fans of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, who died in Au­gust 1977 at the age of 42, the Lisa Marie and the Hound Dog II af- forded a unique glimpse into his jet-set­ting life­style.

Parked Across the Street

Both had been owned by OKC Part­ner­ship of Mem­phis, which dis­played them across the street from Pres­ley’s Grace­land man­sion un­der a joint ven­ture agree­ment with Elvis Pres­ley En­ter­prises, the busi­ness arm of his es­tate.

Pres­ley ac­quired the Lisa Marie in April 1975, two years be­fore his death, for US$250,000, then spent lav­ishly to cus­tomize it to his own spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

Its 29-seat in­te­rior fea­tures a mas­ter suite with for­ward lounge, con­fer­ence room, pri­vate club room and suite, and a bath­room with gold faucets and wash basin.

En­ter­tain­ment on what the rock mu­sic leg­end liked to call “the pride of Elvis Pres­ley Air­ways” was pro­vided by a 52-speaker sound sys­tem and a four-tele­vi­sion in- flight video tape sys­tem.

For­merly op­er­ated by Delta Air Lines, the Con­vair 880 — in its day a ri­val to the iconic Boe­ing 707 — was sold by Pres­ley’s fa­ther in 1978.

It changed hands sev­eral times be­fore it was towed to Grace­land where it rubbed wingtips with the smaller TriS­tar.

Last year, Elvis Pres­ley En­ter­prises said it would not re­new the joint ven­ture deal with OKC Part­ner­ship, prompt­ing the lat­ter to put ads in spe­cial­ist avi­a­tion mag­a­zines look­ing for buy­ers.

With no rea­son­able of­fers com­ing in, and the ex­pi­ra­tion of the joint ven­ture agree­ment drawing ever closer, OKC Part­ner­ship opted for an auc­tion by sealed bid in­stead.

“They’re not fly­able air­planes. They’re re­ally celebrity me­mora­bilia,” a source familiar with the air­craft told AFP in Jan­uary on con­di­tion of anonymity.

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