Owning a slice of a celeb’s life costs, but ardent collectors are prepared to pay, and pay dearly.
For ardent collectors no price is too high for a slice of a celeb’s life.
JUST say you wake up one morning and decide you want to be Eva Peron. Not the real Eva Peron because, well, Argentina in the 1940s wasn’t the most fashionable of places. No you want to look like Madonna Louise Ciccone in the 1996 movie, Evita. As Janet Maslin noted in her review in the New York Times, “Madonna…playing a woman so fashionable that even her casket is well dressed … looks stunning” and “breaks the Guinness world record for the most costume changes in a single movie”.
Darren Julien and Martin Nolan, co-owners of Julien Auctions in Beverly Hills (where else) have the solution to this pressing First-World problem. Next month they will auction 30 of Madonna’s frocks from Evita. Around ten grand should get you a hot South American Peron-style outfit.
Want a combination of Marilyn Monroe and Madonna? The famous Marilyn inspired dress and stole Ms Ciccone wore in her Material Girl video can be on your body for somewhere north of $100,000. Norma Jeane Mortenson died in 1962 but, at the old clothes and artefacts end of the auction business, she ranks higher than many modern celebs. For instance Darren and Martin sold the green velour dress she wore in the 1954 travelogue trying to be a movie, River of No Return, for $516,000. In June 2011, Marilyn’s subway blow-up white frock from the Seven Year Itch sold for $4.5 million. On the other hand for $150,000 you could have been wearing a Princess Diana gown or a John Lennon jacket for $250,000.
We all know you (and your clothes and personal items) are more valuable when you’re dead. Well, if you’re famous that is. Think of all those dead celebs like Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cezanne. Vince only sold one of his paintings while he was alive. He got a whopping 400 francs. Today he’d get at least $40 million for it. The Paris establishment refused to show any of Paul Cezanne’s pictures while he was walking around. He’s not dead 100 years and the Qatar royal family pay Greek shipper George Embiricos $150m for Paul’s picture of two blokes playing cards.
But in the case of today’s celebs anything they have touched or has touched them has value. As Darren Julien said when he sold Marilyn’s 1954 chest X-rays for $50,000: “They are the ultimate look into the legend”. A radiologist bought the X-rays to exhibit in his waiting room. Darren sold her personal phone book for nearly $100,000. While Marilyn was no Cezanne she wasn’t too bad with the brush. Her painting of a rose that was initially dedicated to John Kennedy sold for $80,000. At the same auction her pantyhose brought nearly $1000.
Michael Jackson may have been a tad eccentric, but the fans can’t get enough of his old clothes. “Michael Jackson worked with us for nine months to auction his collection and two weeks before the auction lawyers from his production company stopped it,” Martin Nolan told me. “He cancelled on April 25, 2009, and died on June 25, 2009. It was the greatest auction that never was. We sold the red jacket Michael wore in the video Thriller for $2m exactly two years after the King of Pop passed away.”
Controversial Texas entrepreneur Milton Verret bid against six others for one of the two jackets that Mick wore in the video that changed music videos forever. Better known for his serious car collection, Milt takes the jacket and Thriller video around children’s hospitals to cheer up the sick kids. I hope he tells them what happened to MJ. At the same auction Darren sold Mick’s Bad fedora hat for $17,250, a handwritten note to Liz Taylor for $6000 and a signed pillowcase for $3800. The 41-year-old Macau casino director, Hoffman Ma, paid a total of $450,000 for MJ’s first Moonwalk crystal-covered glove. Darren Julien, calls the glove “the Holy Grail of Michael Jackson”. Hoff bought a total of ten Jackson pieces to display at his casino in the Ponte 16 Resort Hotel. Who cares that the glove is covered with rhinestones and not crystals, and was made in Korea?
Two years later, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta – you know her as Lady Gaga – bought 55 Michael Jackson pieces from Darren and Martin. She paid $200,000 for another rhinestone glove. Clearly Ms Gaga likes the boys at Julien Auctions. In May they sold her a red 1990 Rolls-Royce Corniche III for $130,000. Street value is $15,000. But Stefani is no slouch in the smarts department. She controls 98 per cent of what she wears, meaning she doesn’t even have to die and her clothes are worth lots.
But to show you how wacko the world has become, today the stuff that has the most value are the trinkets worn by unreal persons. Last year Julien Auctions sold Troika Brodsky’s The
Lord of the Rings collection. Troika’s was the largest collector of Ring memorabilia next to Peter Jackson’s private hoard. Bilbo and Frodo Baggin’s sword went for $170,000.
Next month in New York Bonhams will be selling some of Christopher Lee’s props from the three parter. Bonhams Katherine Schofield, expects Anduril, the sword reforged from Narsil, presented to Aragorn in the final episode of The Lord of
the Rings, The Return of the King, sell for up to $250,000. Chris Lee, who played the wizard Saruman, is selling his 1.8m metal staff stands, complete with resin crown and glass orb, for more than $150,000. I’m not suggesting anything but given Chris is now 92 I think there soon could be a sudden uptick in value coming on these items.