Music memorabilia market - 2014 auction review

The music memorabilia market again saw strong results in 2014, as established legends continued to see top results, while emerging collector favourites cemented a place among the familiar faces at auction.

Bob Dylan was the stand-out name of the year, after his lyrics to Like a Rolling Stone sold for $2m at Sotheby's in June - a world record for handwritten lyrics. The success follows on from major sales at the end of 2013, including his Newport Folk Festival guitar.

Punk memorabilia has long been tipped as an upcoming trend in music memorabilia collecting, and 2014's auctions saw hard evidence of the increasing demand. Items from the Ramones, Sex Pistols and the Clash reigned, with many lots exceeding expectations.

Meanwhile, Lady Gaga emerged as one of the most collectible of today's modern pop stars with her striking stage outfits performing superbly. A collector herself, Gaga was seen at several major music memorabilia sales in 2014.

Propelled by the announcement of a major sale at Graceland in January 2015, Elvis memorabilia saw robust sales - proving his status as the King of Rock n Roll. Likewise, the Beatles remain at the top of the market following a number of high-profile sales this year, with Beatlemania showing no sign of stopping among collectors.

Top music memorabilia sale of 2014

Bob Dylan Like a rolling Stone lyrics
Bob Dylan has rapidly become the most in-demand name in music memorabilia

While Bob Dylan's name has been cemented in the pantheon of music legends for some time, the market for his collectibles is just starting to see prices worthy of his status.

The famously secretive Dylan has left few pieces of memorabilia for collectors to fight over, but in 2013, Christie's presented his Newport Folk Festival guitar along with handwritten lyrics to some of his lesser known songs.

The sale was a huge success, and legions of collectors are now keen to own Dylan memorabilia. So when his lyrics to Like a Rolling Stone, perhaps his best known and one of the most important songs of that generation, appeared for sale at Sotheby's, they were destined for record bids.

The lyrics went on to sell for $2m - a new world record for any handwritten lyrics sold at auction.

2014's most important music memorabilia sales

The beginning of the year was hit by a flurry of Beatles sales, including the piano used to record Help! and Yesterday, which sold for $95,000 at Omega Auctions in March. A letter John Lennon wrote, titled "A Matter of Pee", saw a 600% increase on estimate at Cooper Owen, selling for just over $88,000 later that month.

A Rickenbacker guitar used by George Harrison saw one of the top sales of the year in May, coming in at $605,000 with Julien's Auctions. A Vox guitar organ played by John Lennon followed in June, selling for $305,000.

In the same sale as the Like a Rolling Stone lyrics, Bob Dylan's handwritten sheet for A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall made $485,000, marking the third most valuable lot of the year.

Elvis' jumpsuits have long been some of the most desirable memorabilia. One collector saw fit to pay $245,000 for his Peacock outfit at Sotheby's in June, while his Concho suit made $197,000 at Julien's Auctions in May.

Nirvana emerged as one of the hottest selling names in collecting in 2014, with a handwritten set list selling for almost $10,000 at Bonhams in June. However, Kurt Cobain's smashed guitar failed to find a buyer at Sotheby's.

With the Who embarking on a major tour in 2014, the shows refreshed the market for their memorabilia, with a Pete Townshend guitar selling at $45,500 at Lelands, while another similar model went for $63,500.

Madonna held a major auction of her career memorabilia, much of which saw bids way over estimate. Leading was the jacket she wore in Desperately Seeking Susan, which made an impressive $257,000 at the Julien's sale.

It was a breakout year for…

The Ramones. A Dee Dee Ramone guitar made $37,500 at RR Auction in October, while a leather jacket worn by Joey Ramone sold for $15,000. A Johnny Ramone-played guitar is set for big bids at RR Auction in January.

It was a year to forget for…

John Lennon's Paperback Writer guitar, which was destined to be one of the top sales of the year, offered in a market that had already seen several major Beatles instrument sales in 2014. However, estimated at $1m, the guitar failed to find a bidder at Tracks Auction.

One you may have missed…

The rarest record ever pressed in the UK, London Records' cut of Darrell Banks' Open the Door to Your Heart, was discovered by a collector digging through the record collection of a former Decca employee. It's now listed for sale at over $17,000 online.

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