Auction of the Week: The Auction at Graceland, August 12, 2018



2018-07-25 13:05:16

Our featured sale this week is the Auction at Graceland, featuring some remarkable items from the life and career of the King himself, Elvis Presley. The sale takes place at Elvis's former Graceland home on August 12, so if you're heading for Memphis here are 10 lots to look out for...

Unused 'Aloha from Hawaii' concert ticket

Estimate: $2,000 - $3,000

Here's a highly rare, unused ticket from Elvis' 'Aloha from Hawaii' concert on January 14, 1973.

The concert was the most expensive TV entertainment special ever produced, costing $2.5 million, and was broadcast via satellite to an estimated audience of one billion viewers in more than 40 countries.

The concert was hosted to raise money for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund, a charity named after the famous Hawaiian performer Kui Lee who died in 1966 at the age of just 34.

The tickets feature an image of Lee, beneath a picture of Elvis himself, but no price – as audience members were simply asked to donate what they could afford to attend the show.

TV set shot by Elvis

Estimate: $5,000 - $10,000

Elvis had a habit of shooting TV sets when they didn't work properly, when someone he didn't like appeared on them, or simply when he was a little bored.

This set was installed in his daughter Lisa Marie's bedroom at Graceland, and one evening while she was away Elvis struggled to get a decent picture on it – so he blasted it with a nearby handgun instead.

Despite the bullet hole, the set remarkably remained in working order, so he gave it to his personal nurse Letetia Henley as a gift for her daughter's bedroom.

Elvis's painting of his plane the Lisa Marie

Estimate: $7,000 - $10,000

This oil painting of Elvis' private plane Lisa Marie originally hung in the trophy room at Graceland.

Elvis bought the plane from Delta Airlines in April 1975 for $250,000, and then spent a further $800,000 customizing it to include bedrooms, bathrooms, a conference room and a lounge.

Elvis named the plane after his daughter, but nicknamed it the "Flying Graceland", and it was known to air traffic controllers as "Hound Dog One".

Elvis commissioned the painting of his beloved plane from an unknown artist, and later gave it as a gift to his last girlfriend Ginger Alden.

"TLC" gold necklace gifted to Dr Nick's girlfriend Gail Rose

Estimate: $8,000 - $12,000

Elvis was well-known for giving lavish gifts to members of his inner circle, most famously these gold lightning bolt pendants featuring the letters "TCB" or "TLC".

The TCB necklaces stood for "Taking Care of Business", and were presented to his male friends; whereas the TLC necklaces stood for "Tender Loving Care", and were given to the women in his life.

This particular pendant was given to Gail Rose, girlfriend of Elvis' personal physician Dr. George Nichopoulos, known more commonly as Dr Nick.

Dr Nick first met Elvis in 1967, and worked for him right up until his death in 1977, often attending his tours across the U.S with Gail Rose.

Rose received this pendant in the mid-1970s, and recalls in her letter of provenance:

"The above referenced necklace was given to me from Elvis Presley! I cannot remember the exact date other than the early 1970's. It was an honor to have been a part of this dream! Even today I can hear a song, my heart will flutter and tears of joy cover my face!"

Muhammad Ali's 'Elvis Show' membership badge

Estimate: $10,000 - $12,000

This gold engraved badge was one of the official badges commissioned by Elvis in 1970, which he gave to band members and close friends allowing them backstage access during shows.

Presley had the cards made at a trophy shop in Los Angeles, each featuring a copy of his signature, his "TCB" logo, the holder's name and title, and their status as "a member of the ELVIS PRESLEY SHOW".

This particular card was presented to World heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, with whom Elvis shared a special friendship for many years.

Elvis also gave Ali a robe emblazoned with "The People's Champion" on the back, prior to his bout with Joe Bugner in February 1973, and in return Ali gave Elvis a pair of his boxing gloves with "You're the Greatest" written on the left and "To Elvis, my main man, from Muhammad Ali" on the right.

Elvis' Mother-of-Pearl crucifix gifted to Ginger Alden

Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000

Elvis bought this ornate mother-of-pearl inlaid crucifix during his last vacation in Hawaii in March 1977, which he took with girlfriend Ginger Alden and a thirty-person entourage.

Elvis spotted the crucifix during a shopping expedition and purchased several examples in different sizes. He later gave a larger one to his personal physician Dr Nick, and this example to Alden when they returned home to Memphis.

Elvis' stage-used song lyric folder

Estimate: $5,000 - $10,000

This black binder folder was used by Elvis on-stage to hold song lyric sheets during performances from 1972 until the end of his life in 1977.

With such a large back catalogue to choose from, Elvis often used the sheets to remind himself of lyrics during shows, and it kept close to hand by his stage manager Charlie Hodge.

The folder is covered with Hodge's own backstage pass stickers, and can be clearly identified in several photographs of Elvis performing in the mid-1970s.

Following Elvis' death in 1977, the folder was discovered by his bodyguard Dick Grob whilst cleaning out his private plane the Lisa Marie, and was given to him as a memento by Vernon Presley.

Elvis' microphone used during the 1976 'Jungle Room' recording sessions

Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000

In February 1976 Elvis recorded several tracks using a make-shift studio in the den of his home at Graceland, known commonly as the 'Jungle Room'.

Ten of the tracks were released on the 1976 album 'From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee', which reached #1 on the Billboard country music chart.

In October that year Elvis attempted to record in the Jungle Room again, but after three songs the session was interrupted by the delivery of several new Harley Davidson motorcycles and never resumed.

Presley used this Electro-Voice RE15 microphone engraved with his name during that session, although it didn't last long before succumbing to technical problems – and Elvis' wrath.

According to a letter of provenance by Memphis Mafia member Charlie Hodge, "the microphone started to cut out and Elvis tired of its repeated problems, and he threw the microphone across the den and it hit the rock water fall and it dented the screen on the microphone. Naturally that didn't help it any.

"At the end of the session I collected the microphone and several other items and put them in my bedroom at Graceland. I've had the microphone since that time."

Elvis' Beretta pistol received from U.S Army General Omar Bradley

Estimate: $50,000 - $100,000

This Beretta pistol was gifted to Elvis by Omar Bradley, the former U.S Army General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Elvis respected Bradley after seeing him portrayed in the hit 1970 movie Patton, which he watched numerous times, and the two men were neighbours in Beverly Hills.

Elvis presented Bradley with an ornately engraved Colt handgun as a Christmas gift in 1970, which is now on display at the U.S. Army Heritage Museum in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

In return Bradley invited Elvis over to his home to see his collection of historic was and presidential memorabilia, and presented him with this Beretta pistol. During the visit Elvis was accompanied by his then-girlfriend Barbara Leigh, who recalled the visit:

"One day Omar called and we all went over to his home. He knew Elvis loved guns and especially Beretta's. Omar gave this Beretta to Elvis and it surprised him. Elvis was always the one to give gifts. Omar's house was fantastic with all the history of Presidents on his wall. It was a great day, one I'll never forget. Elvis was proud of the gun and later gave it to me because I was there when it was given to him."

Elvis Presley signed contract for the song 'Love Me Tender'

Estimate: $20,000 - $40,000

This historic contract saw Elvis secure the rights to one of his biggest early hits, Love Me Tender.

Throughout his career Elvis demanded that he receive a 50% writing credit for any song he recorded, including this song originally written by Ken Darby.

This contract with Elvis Presley Music dates from August 1956, and credits the song to Elvis and Derby's wife Vera Matson. When asked why he added his wife's name along with Elvis, instead of his own, Darby simply replied "she didn't write it either."

The following month Elvis recorded the song and performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show, an appearance which generated more than one million advance orders for the record and sent it to #1 in the Billboard chart.

Elvis also sang the song in his big screen debut, released in November 1956, which 20th Century Fox renamed 'Love Me Tender' to capitalise on its success.

Both the song and the film helped catapult Elvis into a new level of superstardom, making this contract an important piece of history from his career.

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