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|BIG BUCKS AT BIRTHDAY AUCTION
January 08, 2016 Commercial Appeal / Elvis Express Radio
It was a sale fit for a King, as Elvis Presley Enterprises held another of its "The Auction at Graceland" sales on Thursday night. Helping to kick off the annual Elvis birthday weekend
festivities, the event was the fourth official sale since Graceland Auctions and its related authentication service were launched in 2014.
Held at the Graceland Archives studio, the event saw some 120 pieces of Elvis memorabilia put up for auction. Bidding — taking place live and simultaneously via telephone and
Internet — ran for more than two frenetic hours, seeing everything from a pair of prescription sunglasses owned by Elvis (sold for $27,500) to a series of photo negatives of the
singer in concert in 1956 (which reached $11,875) go under the hammer.
This year's big item was a 1969 Custom Gibson Ebony Dove guitar that Presley used during his 1973 "Aloha from Hawaii" satellite concert — as well as many shows between 1971
and 1975 and for much of the "Elvis on Tour" documentary.
Presley gave the guitar away to a fan at one of his concerts in 1975. Although the guitar was given a pre-auction estimate of $300,000 to $500,000 (with Graceland officials touting
it as "one of the most culturally significant and celebrated guitars in music history") and bidding reached $270,000, it failed to meet its reserve price and was pulled from the sale.
A complete 1972 Presley concert film from Buffalo, New York, shot by "Elvis on Tour" director Robert Abel went for $137,500 to become the most expensive item of the night.
Conducted by auctioneer Wendell Hanson, the bidding started out strong with a collection of items from Presley's teen years in Memphis. A 1948 Humes high school library card,
with one of the earliest known Presley signatures, sold for $11,875. A Humes talent show program from 1953, mentioning an early Presley performance, went for $1,625, while a
Humes high school yearbook signed by Elvis went for $5,250.
Other notable or pricey pieces included a 1958 letter Elvis wrote to his friend Alan Fortas while he was stationed in Germany, which sold for $35,000. A gold-toned microphone and
cord used on stage by Elvis at the International Hotel in Las Vegas during his concert run there in 1969 went for $15,000. A historically significant reel-to-reel recording of a 1955
Louisiana Hayride show — the concert where the famous phrase "Elvis has left the building" was originated by announcer Horace Logan — netted $10,000.
A number of contracts and correspondence signed by both Presley and his manager, Col. Tom Parker, generated some active bidding. Paperwork for some 1956 Ohio concerts
went for $13,750, while an MGM Memo regarding movie terms generated $4,250.
The Elvis birthday festivities will continue on Friday morning at 9:30 with a cake-cutting and proclamation of Elvis Presley Day by Memphis and Shelby County officials at Graceland.
The ceremony will be broadcast live at graceland.com.