Twenty four years ago today, Madonna celebrated yet another UK number one single, with the iconic "Papa Don't Preach." At the time, she was viewed as a pop star at the pinnacle of her career, offering a daring mix of youth and sexuality that had button down conservatives up in arms. While the tastes and trends of music may have changed since then, one thing has remained a constant: Madonna.
To date, Madonna has sold 250 million records worldwide and currently stands in the Guinness World Record books as the top selling female artist of all time. And despite numerous hair style changes and ill advised lycra based videos, she remains as popular as ever. Her 2008, Sticky and Sweet world tour made $408 million, the highest ever grossing tour for a solo artist and the second highest of all time.
It's therefore of little surprise to find that Madonna memorabilia is becoming popular among collectors, who are starting to recognise her status and potential to match The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.
According to the PFC40 autograph index, which details the 2000 - 2010 price performance of 40 of the most sought after celebrity autographs, Madonna autographs have seen an increase in value of 138.7% in the last decade, with a signed photo valued at £375 in 2000, now commanding a price of £895.
As an icon of some thirty years, collectors and investors looking towards the Madonna memorabilia market will also find a variety of collectibles. With some pieces available for around £1,000 and under, there really is something to everyone's taste
Platinum record displays are one such example, a framed display of Madonna's 1986 album True Blue, recently fetched £260 ($384), while a signed platinum disc of the 2003 album American Life sold for £570 (£864) in 2005.
Similarly, cheques have proven a relatively low cost opportunity to obtain Madonna's autograph, with two 1988 cheques signed Madonna Ciccone, auctioned for £640 ($960) and £750 ($1054.80) off estimated prices of $200-400.
Clothes from the star herself have also been purchased relatively cheaply with a leather jacket from rehearsals of the 1990 "Blonde Ambition" tour selling for £500 ($777) at a 2005 Bonhams auction, while even a pair of Dolce and Gabbana stretch pants worn by Madonna, sold for £700 ($1,058).
Nevertheless, more significant clothing memorabilia requires more significant investment. As well as being a singer, Madonna has enjoyed limited success on the silver screen. Dresses from these films have started to come on the market and offer a middle level investment opportunity for collectors and investors alike.
In 2005, Bonhams auctioned, a gold, sleeveless, full length gown worn by Madonna in the film version of the famous musical Evita for £3,000 ($4,113).
Similarly, dresses made famous in music videos and tours offer collectors a unique opportunity to invest. A white wedding dress, worn by Madonna during her 1984 Like A Virgin tour was sold via the New York based Gotta Have It auction house for £3,750 ($5,662), against an estimate of £2,000 ($3,000).
The dress had additional significance: it was worn by Britney Spears on US show Saturday Night Live in 2000, when she broke records as the youngest person to present and perform musically on the show.
The value of such collectible and iconic dresses could soon increase, with some museums beginning to show an interest in Madonna memorabilia.
Earlier this year, the planned sale of the pink dress worn by Madonna in the 1985 video "Material Girl" was scrapped in favour of selling the dress to a travelling Madonna exhibition.
Increasingly, personal collectibles are proving popular at both the mid level and high end of the market.
A 1979 cassette of Madonna performing an acoustic demo recorded before Madonna signed to any major record labels exceeded all expectations at a recent auction. The rare recording sold for $6,400, over three times the estimate of £1,300 ($2,000).
The most valuable Madonna collectibles have commonly touched on a specific moment from her career and much like recordings, signed documents offer truly unique collectibles at a more significant price.
A 4" x 7" black leather bound appointment book, covering the similar period from April 30th 1988 through to January 22nd 1989, came up for sale in August, 2008. The document offered a window into the star's routine, at a time when she was in the public eye, thanks to her marriage to Hollywood bad boy Sean Penn. With a low end estimate of £5,500 ($8,000) the personal document sold for $11,616 ($17,500).
Many of the most personal memorabilia, is also the most easily recognised, thanks to the worldwide focus on the star.
A classic example being the stage worn Dolce and Gabbana bra from Madonna's "Live down Under" tour of Australia in 1994. The tour would be immortalised, thanks to a bestselling film of the show, which helped to broadcast the image of the stage worn bra to a worldwide audience.
It was therefore of little surprise that the item sold for £8,100 ($12,500) over three times the auction estimate of £2,750 ($4,000). When we consider that, to date, Madonna has completed seven world tours, with a total gross of some $972.7 million worldwide, the collectible value of costumes and dresses related to these shows could be just as significant.
In much the same way that the careers of great sportsmen are honoured by trophies and medals, pop icons like Madonna garner success with numerous awards. These awards represent a high end investment that can be enjoyed by collectors and investors alike.
In 2008, Gotta Have it auctions sold a "World's Best Selling Pop Rock Artist of the Year" award belonging to Madonna from 2001. The statue was donated by Warner Music International as part of a charity auction and sold for £12,000 ($18,000), improving on the estimate of £11,000 ($17,000).
Given that Madonna has enjoyed a pop career of over thirty years, there remains the potential for further award memorabilia to be introduced onto the market.
Yet, the most valuable Madonna memorabilia currently available to collectors focuses on her sexuality, something which transcended both her public and personal life thanks to her provocative style.
In February last year Christie's put two photographs of Madonna up for sale. One photo created for a 1980s Playboy shoot, exceeded estimates, reaching $18,750 (£12,888) at auction.
Yet the most popular and ultimately most sexualised collectible photographs of Madonna date back to her pre pop days in 1979.
A nude picture had been expected to fetch £10,365 ($15,000) at the Christie's auction in New York, yet sold for £26,000 ($37,500). Recent years have seen more pictures emerge on the market, meaning we may not have seen the last of these particular Madonna collectibles at auction.
The market for memorabilia relating to the Queen of Pop also has huge potential to grow in the next ten to twenty years. The best comparison to be found is that of Michael Jackson.
Since his death last year, the Michael Jackson memorabilia market has seen massive surges in the prices attached to collectible items. The next twenty years could see similar increases for Madonna memorabilia.
A Julien's Auctions sale at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York saw the pen scrawled lyrics to Beat It sell for £40,000 ($60,000), off a high end estimate of £2,500 ($4000). Currently, the hand written lyrics to Madonna's 1990 hit Cry Baby are currently on the market for just under £5,000 ($7,500) and could represent an investment with similar potential.
Like Madonna, Michael Jackson's career has been littered with iconic memorabilia. However, unlike Jackson, these collectibles remain greatly undervalued.
A replica of the strap and zipper laden black jacket made famous by the 1987 album cover Bad and worn by Michael Jackson during his 1989 World tour recently sold for £135,000, over 20 times its auction estimate.
In comparison, the famous pair of Levi 501 jeans which Madonna wore on the cover of her 1986 album True Blue, are on the market today for £18,000, alongside autographed documents related to the shoot, with both items, currently around a seventh of the price.
The most valuable memorabilia piece related to Michael Jackson remains the white rhinestone covered glove, introduced to us in 1983, alongside the famous moonwalk dance which sold for £212,000 at auction last year.
Yet, similarly, the famous black basque garment, introduced to Madonna fans during the ground breaking Erotica period of her career, is currently on the market and valued at £15,000 ($20,000).
With the career of Madonna continuing to enjoy steady high level success, the value of collectibles relating to an icon of celebrity culture, music and sexuality, could ensure that the value of her collectibles continue to increase.
The market could soon be witnessing a further influx of Madonna memorabilia too. Madonna, herself, admits to housing a huge collection of her one off pieces, which may one day enter the market:
"I have an archive museum in a warehouse which houses all the costumes I've worn on stage and in videos....one-of-a-kind pieces made for me and special pieces I've always loved."
Earlier this year celebrity gossip website TMZ, reported that a storage unit once belonging to Madonna's assistant Melissa Crow, had been repossessed.
This allowed the facility owner to gain ownership of the contents for just £100 ($150). With a collection including photographs with former husband Sean Penn, actor Warren Beauty, previously unpublished photographs and other memorabilia, we probably won't be seeing the last of Madonna collectibles for some time.
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