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Sotheby’s sells “leftovers” in Elton craze buying

Posted by editor
Thursday 18 September 1997

Sotheby’s annual music and memorabilia auction saw a number of “leftovers” from the previous year sold handsomely on September 16-17, 1997. The first day the hammer banged at the Hard Rock Cafe, London, and the second day was at Sotheby’s main galleries in New Bond Street, London.

A U.S. gold sales award for “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” presented to Dee Murray with press clippings from Cashbox and Billboard November 1973 and December 1973 respectively showing the album at number one, laminated on boards sold for £1,035. That was well above the minimum bid of £600 to £800 for Lot 12.


Elton’s famous leather jacket which appeared in the photo call for 1986 album “Leather Jackets” in purple, decorated with silver and black beaded sunglasses and zips, labelled Jean-Claude Jitrois was a cash ‘n’ carry at £747, just above the min. bid of £600-£700 for Lot 29.


Elton’s famous 1973 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road costume by Bill Whitten’s Workroom 27 – the famous item originally sold by Sotheby’s in the historic auction of 1988 – was once again under the hammer. Together with a b/w photo of Elton wearing the costume, it fetched £11,500 – a bargain inside the min. bid of £10,000-£12,000 for Lot 33.


Lot 238 was the next item. A U.S. gold sales award for album, cassette and CD of “Captain Fantastic” presented to Elton went for a shrewd £368, beneath the £400-£500 min. bid.


The next item went well over the odds. Lot 239, a pair of Elton’s glasses, with oval, blue-tinted prescription lenses, gold-coloured frames, stamped Tura, set with fake diamonds and fake sapphires, in a case, together with a “Louder Than Concorde” 1976 U.K. Tour programme which featured Elton wearing the specs. The glasses, min. bid £1,000-£1,200, went for a song. £2,875 to be precise! Unlike the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road costume,   Sotheby’s catalogue stipulated the glasses were previously sold in the September 6, 1988 auction.


The next item, Lot 240, didn’t sell. It will be held over to the next event. A U.S. gold sales award for “Caribou” presented to Bernie Taupin was min. bid of £600-£700.


Lot 241, an Elton spectacles flight case from the 1970s in silver, stencilled in black ‘Elton John Fragile’ and with various tour passes and labels, and several specs cases from l.a. Eyeworks, and a bright yellow mob-cap went for £747, a jumbo price compared with £100-£150 min. price.


Lot 242, Elton’s stage costume by Bob Mackie from 1973, comprising jacket, trousers in yellow stretch fabric, fur trim, furry Cossack hat, and several photos of Elton wearing the outfit, went for the mid-price of £2,875. Min. bid was £2,500-£3,500. Again, mention that Sotheby’s had previously sold this costume and hat in 1988 didn’t dent the value!

Elton’s piano stool, with a seat of padded, blue crushed velvet, adjustable, on four square legs, formerly in the collection of Isaac Tigrett, would have made Elton fall off if he knew the price. It went for £345 – that’s below the bid range of £350-£370. No wonder he plays Bennie & The Jets under the piano.


Lot 244 and Lot 245, the last Elton items, were “that’s your lot”. They didn’t sell. A leather jacket, military style in black leather, with red and silver trim and labelled Palazzo and a bid range of £400-£500. An Elton stage hat from the 1970s, in pale blue felt, edged with fur and decorated with a standing angel, cherries, feathers, and fabric poppies, labelled ‘Wendy Gell 1976’, had a bid range of £400-£500. It was worn onstage with a 1920s Pierrot’s costume. And the hat had previously been Lot 222 in the 1988 auction.

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