Some fans take their devotion to another level. Not content having picked up a band’s back catalogue, been to every gig and got the T-shirt – they want a little bit of their being. And when it comes to musical memorabilia, some people are prepared to pay serious money for some seriously weird stuff.
Of course, most artists can only dream of acquiring such a dedicated fanbase. But the following examples highlight a question lots of musicians struggle with – how much is my brand, and the gear I use, really worth?
Here at Insure4Music, we know just how valuable musical equipment is to modern artists. That’s why those musicians that appreciate this fact get their musical instrument insurance with us. Though we’ve already catalogued the historic guitars that have sold for over a million dollars each, this piece serves as a reminder that it’s not just your musical instruments that accrue value over time. From locks of hair to prescriptions pills, here are some examples that show the artefacts of your band’s history can command a hefty price tag in the auction room.
The weirdest musical memorabilia ever auctioned:
You might have a mint-condition original pressing of Michael Jackon’s Thriller, but do you own a piece of his hair? At least one person does – and paid $1,600 (£1,133) for it. The lucky bidder walked away with a few strands of the King of Pop’s burnt hair, which was recovered from the notorious Pepsi incident (where Jacko’s head was set alight after a firework went awry) and put up for auction.
But the late singer isn’t the only one: artists from John Lennon to Willie Nelson have had their locks go under the hammer. Justin Bieber reportedly holds the record– a snip of his famous golden hair was sold for $40,688 (£28,824).
In June 2010, a set of three X-rays of Marilyn Monroe’s chest fetched a staggering $45,000 (£31,880) at an auction in Las Vegas – 15 times what they were expected to sell for. Weirdly, there is a real appetite for this sort of thing: the medical insurance card of Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler was once snapped up enthusiastically after being put up for sale.
Even more bizarrely, a pill bottle prescribed to Elvis Presley the day before his death was sold at auction last year. The container held tablets that were intended to help with the star’s chronic muscle pains. Someone paid $5,500 (£3,896) for it.
Seemingly everything John Lennon ever came into contact with has been sold off at auction, as well as parts of John Lennon himself. Most famous is his tooth, sold for $31,000 (£22,017). It was once a (really rather strange) gift to his housekeeper.
William Shatner sold his own kidney stones to an online casino for $25,000 (£17,755) in a charity auction. The former Star Trek actor quipped that the stone was so big “you’d want to wear it on your finger”.
And just to top that on the gross scale: the toenail clippings of Radiohead singer Thom Yorke also went up for sale after a fan rooted through his dressing room bin to find them and stuck them on eBay. Delightful.
Justin Timberlake’s half-eaten breakfast is clearly a must-have for any fan of the former NSync man. When the singer left his nibbled French toast behind after a morning radio interview, some bright spark decided to put it up for auction. It sold for over $1,000 (£709).
And he’s not the first: the spat-out out gum of his former lover Britney Spears was also listed on eBay. One person even bid $14,000 (£9,934) for it, although they didn’t go through with it. One person did eventually buy the gum after tabling a bid of over $100.