Going once, going twice — Elvis’ piano, jumpsuit and more are set for auction
The elegant white piano that was a fixture for a decade at Graceland is back on the auction block, but you can’t get it for a song.
The grand piano — which reportedly was played by W.C. Handy, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Cab Calloway before it was acquired by Elvis Presley — is expected to fetch plenty of “money, honey” (as the King sang in 1956) when it goes on public auction Thursday through Aug. 20 via eBay.
Built in 1912 by Wm. Knabe & Co. in Baltimore, the piano — housed at the old Ellis Auditorium from the 1930s to about 1957, where its ivories were tickled by numerous jazz and R&B greats — is just one of multiple Elvis items offered for sale this week in what has become an annual ritual of acquisitiveness for fans and collectors with pockets even deeper than the green shag carpet in the Jungle Room.
Bought and sold many times since Elvis’ Searching for the King's ghost? Planning a visit to Graceland? The Commercial Appeal is marking the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death with a special website at elvis.commercialappeal.com and with a 64-page magazine that will be included with subscribers’ Aug. 13 newspapers and sold at select locations around town. father, Vernon Presley, sold it away from Graceland in 1976, the piano — which lost its place of pride in the Presley music room after Priscilla gave her husband a gold-leafed piano as a birthday present in 1969 — is being offered through Bang The Gavel Auction Services of Westlake Village, California.
“It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever sold,” Drew Donen, CEO of Bang The Gavel, said in a phone interview. “It’s sitting in my office right now and I get chills every time I walk by it. I wish I knew how to play it.”
Meanwhile, Elvis Presley Enterprises, through its Graceland Auctions company, is offering 315 lots of Elvis material, ranging from a “Promised Land” gold record to a velvet cape to the keys to the King’s 1973 stretch limousine.
Jeff Marren of Graceland Auctions said this week’s event likely will be the most successful of the nine auctions held since Elvis Presley Enterprises began hosting the public sales in 2014. He said the items — which range in minimum bid from $100,000 for a “blue scallop” jumpsuit to $100 for a Japanese “Frankie and Johnny” movie poster — are expected to earn a total of about $1.5 million. (All the material in the sale is consigned to EPE by private collectors; none of it comes