As the baby grand piano on which late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody” goes on sale Wednesday, followed later this month by an auction for the hat worn by Michael Jackson for his first “moonwalk”, here are some other pieces of celebrity mega-memorabilia that have gone under the hammer:
Marilyn Monroe’s dress
Los Angeles-based museum Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in November 2016 bought the dress Marilyn Monroe wore to sing “Happy Birthday Mr President” to John F. Kennedy as he turned 45. The flesh-coloured dress adorned with 2,500 hand-stitched crystals, which went for $4.8 million at Julien’s Auctions, was so tight the legendary actress had to be sewn into it at the last minute before stepping on stage at Madison Square Garden in 1962. Monroe died less than three months later of an overdose. Kennedy died a year later.
Kurt Cobain’s guitar
The guitar that grunge-rock icon Kurt Cobain played during his legendary 1993 MTV Unplugged performance sold in June 2020 for $6 million, a record for a guitar. The retro acoustic-electric 1959 Martin D-18E that Cobain strummed for Nirvana’s performance in New York — just five months before his suicide at age 27 — sold at Julien’s Auctions after a bidding war to Peter Freedman, founder of RODE Microphones. Until then, the most expensive guitar in history was a Fender Stratocaster, dubbed “Black Strat”, used by Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, which sold for nearly $4 million in June 2019.
Michael Jordan’s jersey
One of NBA superstar Michael Jordan’s jerseys sold for $10.1 million in September 2022, the most ever paid at auction for any game-worn collectible. The sale of the basketball player’s Number 23 jersey from the 1998 NBA Finals beat a record held by Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” Argentina jersey. Another sporting relic, the ball that Maradona handled to score his infamous goal for Argentina against England in the 1986 World Cup, sold at auction in November 2022 for 163 million.
Bob Dylan lyrics
Handwritten song lyrics from legendary American singer Bob Dylan sold for $2 million at auction in New York in June 2014 at Sotheby’s. Dylan’s 1965 epic “Like A Rolling Stone” transformed him from a folk musician into a rock icon and they were the most expensive handwritten song lyrics ever sold.
Michael Jackson’s glove
The rhinestone-encrusted glove worn by pop icon Michael Jackson for his first “moonwalk” dance in 1 sold in November 2009 for $350,000 at a frenzied auction in New York. Customised from a simple left-handed golf glove still marked “Made in Korea,” it was the climax of an auction featuring more than 70 items from the career of the singer, who died age 50 in June that year after an overdose of prescription drugs.
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