This weekend sees the auctioning off of Michael Jackson’s household items. To mark the occasion we’ve written up two articles on the habit of collection, the amassing of music memorabilia. Kicking off the weekend’s words we’ve compiled a list of the 10 strangest items to go through the auction block: condoms, medical equipment, human waste, we’ve got it all for your reading…enjoyment?
Let’s jump right in at the deep end with…
Thom Yorke’s toenails
During a Radiohead gig an enterprising staff member raided the singer Thom Yorke’s dressing room to find anything auctionable. Not one for the traditional lock of hair or unwashed t-shirt they instead rifled through the bin and left with Yorke’s toenail clippings.
Beatles’ manager’s closet door
It’s not just the musicians who have their stuff sold off to the fans. The Beatle’s American manager, Nat Weiss, had his office door auctioned off in 2009 for over $50,000. Now, this wasn’t any ordinary door. In 1968 when Lennon and McCartney went stateside to promote Apple records Nat decamped to a hotel letting the musicians stay in his apartment. When he moved back in he found that the two had signed the inside of his wardrobe: “Paul McCartney and John Lennon with much love”. Late that same year Harrison stayed in Nat’s apartment and also signed the door: “Love from George Harrison 30/11/68”.
Martin Bulloch’s pacemaker
Because of its aptness this is probably my favourite from this list of oddities; Mogwai drummer Martin Bulloch sold off two of his old pacemakers to raise money for the British Heart Foundation in 2007.
Britney’s chewing gum
In 2004 a fan tried to sell a piece of gum chewed by the pop star on eBay. As the gum contained DNA it was against the website’s policy, but the item had already raised over $14,000 before it was pulled. At that price you could get 280,000 sticks of gum, laid end to end that’s 14km. And 14km is the minimum distance I’d want between the person who bid it and the rest of humanity.
Madonna branded condoms
Quite the collectors item apparently, you can pick up the Madonna’s own line of condoms for a mere £30 a box. For the box of six that is £5 a pop… why I’m in a basic arithmetic mood at the moment I don’t know, but I feel I should steer clear of any discussion about pricing sex.
Pete Doherty’s face on a piece of toast
Artist Dermot Flynn went against convention and swapped his canvas and paint for toast and Marmite. Amongst the limited run were the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Charlotte Church, and of course, Pete Doherty. The ‘Marmart’ exibition ran during October 2006, sad to think that this unique collection will be mouldered by now. Unless someone did the decent thing and ate them.
Britney Spear’s pregnancy test
Either Britney leaves a lot of her stuff around or she has particularly desirable detritus. In 2005 a ‘fan’ sold her used pregnancy test for £2,500 to the gambling site The Golden Palace. This whole story raises questions: where’d they get the pregnancy test from? Why was a gambling site interested in the pee-stick? Was it offered as a prize?
Please, if you have any of the answers, do tell us.
The Beatles’ toilet paper
Another Beatles entry. After rejecting the EMI stamped toilet paper at the Abbey Road studios because it was “too hard and shiny” it was put in a glass case along with a letter from EMI general manager Ken Townsend explaining their complaints. When it went to auction bids for the roll topped out at $1,545 per sheet.
A jar of Elvis’ hair
In 2002 a fan bought a jar of Elvis‘ hair collected by his barber for $115,000. Yeah. £115,000. For a jar of hair. Hair that the barber claims was Elvis’. The ‘lucky’ bidder may have spent a small fortune on some randomer’s hair, hell it could be a blend of the whole town’s. Well, each to their own.
Michael Jackson’s undies
This weekend’s auction isn’t the first time MJ’s property has been sold off. Back in 2008 a fan put Michael’s underwear on eBay with a reserve price of $1m. Bit bizarre you may be thinking, but surely after Britney’s gum, Yorke’s toenails, and a pacemaker, this seems pretty tame? Well, I’ll admit that it isn’t so out there, until you find out where they came from – these boxers were put forward as potential evidence during Jackson’s child molestation case.
Check back tomorrow for a look at the psychology of collecting.