Celebrity Auctions - The Entertainment Chronicles - Entertainment Trivia
To Own A Piece Of A Star
A classic episode of Seinfeld features George Costanza (Jason Alexander) planning to buy a used 1989 Volvo, based on his consumer report research. However, he drives off the car lot with a 1989 Le Baron - George was told by the salesman that the car's previous owner was Jon Voight. Owning the car of a film star thrills him. A chewed-up pencil is later discovered in the glove box - oooh, Jon Voight's pencil! In the show's final minutes, it's disclosed that the car was not previously owned by Jon Voight the film actor, but John Voight the periodontist.
Autographs, clothing, knick-knacks, appliances - no matter what it is or its condition, if it once belonged to or was used by a celebrity, somebody out there will undoubtedly want it. Why? The reasons vary: to pay homage to an icon, to fill a void in an empty life, to add a rare trophy to a personal collection. Like George, no one seems immune to celebrity fever - even celebrities collect the cast-offs of other celebrities:
In 1979, Sid Luft, third husband of the late Judy Garland, held an auction of the film star's personal possessions ten years after her death. More than $250,000 was brought in from an odd hodgepodge of her belongings. For instance, one pair of Garland's false eyelashes was sold to a fan for an unexpected $125.
In Dallas, Texas, a two-page letter written more than 100 years ago by artist Vincent van Gogh sold for $500,000 in February 1996. A collector bought it as a Valentine's Day present.
Rosebud, the child's sled which played an enigmatic part in the 1941 Orson Welles' film Citizen Kane, was purchased by director Steven Spielberg for $55,000.
A 1994 auction at Sotheby's in London brought in big bucks for music and film memorabilia. U2's Bono paid nearly $56,000 for the Hitler-like suit worn by Charlie Chaplin in the 1940 film The Great Dictator. A collection of Jimi Hendrix's music was sold to a collector for nearly $80,000. The highlight at the auction was the sale of the earliest known recording of the late John Lennon, which was sold for $122,770 to the V. P. of Thorn EMI of London. The 1957 recording was of Lennon's first band, a skiffle group called The Quarrymen. It was recorded by 16-year-old Lennon on a 3-inch reel of tape, and contained two songs:Puttin' On the Style and Baby Let's Play House. This sale marked the highest price paid at auction for any recording at that time.
Joan Crawford's only Oscar was sold to a private collector at a New York auction in 1993. This was the first sale of an Academy Award given to a major star. The Oscar sold for $68,500, many times over Christie's $8,000 - $12,000 pre-sale estimate. The Academy objected loudly to the sale of the statuette, which Crawford won for her performance in the 1945 film Mildred Pierce.
A batch of 40 letters written by Greta Garbo to a Swedish friend were sold at auction in 1993 for $32,650. They comprised the second group of personal correspondence sold at auction, all written by the film star between 1923 and 1984. Garbo had abruptly withdrawn from Hollywood in 1941 at the height of her illustrious film career, and cloistered herself for nearly 50 years until her death in 1990.
The bullwhip used by Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones films brought in $24,300 at auction.
The marriage certificate of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller fetched $13,700 at auction.
At a 1994 auction of Barbra Streisand's discarded household goods, her used toaster was purchased by a fan for $90. This lends itself to a bizarre image of a pedestal erected in someone's living room, on which La Streisand's beat-up toaster sits enshrined and softly lighted under a protective glass dome ("I cleaned it out, and... look! Barbra Streisand's whole wheat bread crumbs!").
Author: Vicki McClure Davidson