The Story of... Collectors are going Gaga for pop memorabilia



There are estimated to be 200 million serious collectors around the world.

A general assumption is that 80% of them are male, and middle-aged or over. And this would certainly explain the overriding popularity of certain collectibles...

The Rolling Stones, Jackson Pollock, George Washington and Marilyn Monroe  are among the collectibles markets' so-called 'blue chips' - and each could presumably appeal to this demographic.


Justin Bieber is among the
contemporary popstars whose
hair is for sale to collectors

Yet there is a new collectibles market emerging which blows these assumptions out of the water. One which is generating exciting and big-money sales on a regular basis.

Often these pieces are selling for charitable causes, with recent examples including a "pimped-up" Maybach luxury car.

The car can be seen in the latest video from rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West for the song Otis from their collaborative album, Watch the Throne.

Good cause

Says a message from the hip-hop duo: "The vehicle used in this visual will be offered up for auction. Proceeds will be donated towards The East African Drought Disaster."

And it isn't only the titans of rap who are doing their bit for charitable causes. In 2010, a piano signed by pop eccentric Lady Gaga appeared in an auction held by CharityBuzz with a listed price of $75,000.

Unlike, say, a signed Rolling Stones album, these items are neither classic nor historical. Yet they boast impeccable celebrity provenance in an era where many younger people are obsessed with fame.

Even the top auction houses are getting involved and not just for charity.

Four colour polaroids featuring Ms Gaga, taken by Nobuyoshi Araki, were sold by Phillips de Pury & Co for £4,750 in 2010 - well over their £1,800-2,500 estimate.

Hair today...

Of course, stage costumes, instruments and photographs are all collecting traditions.

But, bizarrely, the resurgence in contemporary pop collectibles has also seen the resurrection of a forgotten hobby which dates back to Victorian times... Collectible hair.

Back in the Victorian era, a celebrity was more likely to give you a lock of their hair than an autograph.

And who's leading this resurgence? Look no further than the teenyboppers' favourite Justin Bieber,  

Earlier this year, the Golden Palace casino bought a clump of Justin Bieber's hair to be displayed in its travelling museum of curiosities.


Lady Gaga has already appeared on the high-end collectibles markets,
like when her grand piano appeared for sale

In the end, the casino pushed the hair's value all the way up to $40,668.

It was a respectable sale total, especially if you compare Bieber's auctioned barnet to sales of hair from the heads of history's greats...

A lock of Elvis Presley's hair sold for $115,120 in 2002 and, in 2007, a single lock from Cuban revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara made $119,000.

Biebers hair is also being sold by collecibles retailer A Small Piece of History for as little as £49.95.

From Megadeth to mega buys

'Biebermania' might be leading the contemporary pop collectibles markets at present, but artists from all walks of life are getting involved.

Metal band Megadeth and pop-punkers Blink 182 were among acts to recently donate proceeds from their memorabilia sales to aiding tsunami relief in Japan.

Of course, whether the likes of Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga will establish themselves in the pop canon like Madonna (who, after turning 53 this week, is still going strong) remains to be seen - although stranger things have happened in pop.

For now, the buzz and significant sums surrounding contemporary pop memorabilia are making these markets worthy of serious attention.


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