Elvis, live on the auction block

Streaming video will bring the online world to Vegas to bid for the King's never-before-sold clothes and contracts.


Joe Ashbrook Nickell
June 22, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

Until now, fans of Elvis have had to rely on the array of lunchboxes, statuettes, and all-shook-up Graceland snow globes to beshrine their homes with reminders of the King. But, just in time for the millennium, the Internet is helping change all that, by letting regular Joes buy a piece of the Graceland archives.

While most rank-and-file worshippers won't be able to afford The Spangled One's custom Caddie station wagon, organizers of the Elvis Presley Archival Memorabilia Auction -- scheduled for October -- hope to use online bidding (with no preset minimum bids) to leverage more than 2,000 lots of Elvis' former possessions into a collectibles auction fit for both King and pauper.

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"I think it's quite fair to believe there'll be quite a few items offered as bargains," said Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey's Auction, which announced the auction together with icollector, an online art and collectibles auction site. Icollector will host the catalog online and collect presale bids via e-mail.

While the auction will take place live -- appropriately enough, at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Hotel -- wanna-haves from around the world will be able to watch the auction via streaming video and bid online for items that include clothes worn by Elvis in concert, furniture and an array of seemingly tossed-off items such as original recording contracts signed by Elvis and correspondence from Colonel Parker.

"That sort of thing has never been offered to collectors," said Ettinger. "It's not an elitist sale; the person who has little money to spend still has a fighting chance here." Of course, those folks might have to fight with not a few professional collectors of Elvis memorabilia.

"Personally, I think the contracts are some of the coolest items coming up for auction," said Cindy Hazen, co-owner of Elvistyle, a Memphis, Tenn., tour company that owns and is attempting to restore Elvis' second-to-last home to the state in which the King left it. "We will be looking for memorabilia related to our house."

Proceeds from the auction will be used to establish a building fund for the creation of Presley Place, a transitional housing development in Memphis. And for those scheduling trips to Graceland after October, no need to worry. Nothing currently on display at the shrine to the King will be sold off.


Joe Ashbrook Nickell

Joe Ashbrook Nickell is a freelance writer in Missoula, Mont.

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