Music memorabilia market: 2012 auction review

2012 saw several significant sales of music memorabilia, particularly towards the latter part of the year. Iconic pieces once owned by George Harrison and offered, with excellent provenance, from the Harrison family collection, starred at Bonhams in December, bringing substantial sums.

Also in December, a large cache of Michael Jackson's most outlandish stage costumes was bought by fellow fashion-eccentric Lady Gaga at a Las Vegas music auction. Following the sale, Gaga announced on Twitter: "The fifty five pieces I have collected today will be archived and expertly cared for in the spirit and love of Michael Jackson, his bravery and his fans worldwide."

2012's top sale

Mick Jagger Marsha Hunt love letters auction
Jagger's letters followed Marianne Faithful's suicide attempt on the set of Ned Kelly

  • Mick Jagger's love letters to Marsha Hunt brought £187,250 ($302,265) at Sotheby's highly anticipated English Literature, History, Children's Book and Illustration auction in December - an 87% increase on their £100,000 ($158,750) high presale estimate.
  • Jagger's jumpsuit also sold this year at Christie's Pop Culture auction in November. The white and silver suit brought an impressive £20,000 ($32,075), trouncing its £12,000 ($19,496) high estimate with a 66.6% increase.

See 2012's Top 10 music memorabilia sales

The Harrison family collection

Including some of the most important Beatles related items to be offered for auction this decade, the Harrison family collection, which had never before been made available to the general public, was gifted by George to his brother, Harry, and other family members before his death in 2001.

  • George Harrison's leather jacket made £110,450 ($178,000), selling solidly within its £90,000-120,000 ($146,217-194,951) estimate.
  • George Harrison's "Beatle" boots brought an impressive 308.8% increase on their £15,000 ($24,363) valuation, achieving £61,250 ($98,712) at the London sale.

Michael Jackson memorabilia

Michael Jackson clothing auction
Jackson's Bad tour jacket sold for $240,000

  • A striking Michael Jackson Bad tour jacket brought $240,000 in a Las Vegas auction, which showcased more than 800 lots relating to the late singer. The sale price represented a 100% increase on the jacket's $120,000 pre-auction estimate.
  • Two of Jackson's individual crystal gloves also performed with strong results. A "fantasy glove" created for the singer by Bill Whitten sold for $200,000 after it was estimated to be worth $192,000, while a white cotton, right hand glove brought $155,000 - a 210.4% increase on its $50,000 presale valuation.  

It was a break out year for...

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga memorabilia is rivalling Madonna's for popularity

  • Lady Gaga: as well as exercising considerable buying power at the Jackson auction,

    Gaga's own memorabilia has also been selling strongly, including a lipstick-marked teacup and saucer once used by her which sold for $75,300 in May.

    A single shoe, which was thrown from the stage by the singer during a concert, is to sell in Paris in February 2013. Gaga was last seen wearing the towering stiletto at Paris' Bercy Stadium on December 19, 2010. Experts believe the shoe could achieve as much as $6,478 when it comes to auction.

A year to forget for…

  • Famous property sales: although Elvis' bible sold with strong results in the UK this year, bringing £59,000 ($94,000) and testifying to his enduring collectibility; the attempted sale of the crypt in which Presley's body was first entombed had to be pulled from an auction in Los Angeles in June after fans successfully protested that the site should remain a shrine to the star.
  • Amy Winehouse's Camden home also proved a flop at auction, bringing a lacklustre £1.98m ($3.1m) when it was offered in London in December. The late singer's home, which has been transformed into something of a shrine and site of pilgrimage by grieving fans, was sold with no mention of Winehouse to a couple who wished to remain anonymous.

One you might have missed…

The White Stripes single Lafayette Blues rare
#1 of the pressing was originally shunned by fans

  • A rare single by the White Stripes sold on eBay this year for $12,700. Featuring hand painted cover art by lead singer, Jack White, the single is one of only 15 numbered copies that were originally sold for just $6 in 1998.

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