Things You Can Buy At Christie's Pop Culture Auction

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Tomorrow, Christie's will be selling used clothing, an old stapler and a cookie recipe. The renowned auction house hasn't turned into your neighborhood garage sale, though—unless your neighbor is selling Tony Sopranos' clothing, Jack Kerouac's stapler, and a NASA cookie recipe. Here's what else your money can buy at Christie's Pop Culture auction.

Celebrity Items

"¢ Celebrity-owned objects always make their way into auctions like this one. For those seeking premium office supplies, a gray Swingline stapler, replacement staples and a ball point pen owned by Jack Kerouac are for sale.

"¢ An 11-year-old from Staten Island gets a perfect score on his pop quiz. Now it is estimated to be worth $800 to $1,200 because that student was Robert DeNiro. De Niro items are rare in the collectors market, according to Simeon Lipman, head of Christie's pop culture department. At that price, it should be exhibited on a very nice fridge.

"¢ In 1961, Marilyn Monroe spent $15 at a hair salon. In 2008, the opening bid for her receipt is $1,500. Lipman explained that celebrity receipts and checks are popular because the signatures are authentic, they are easy to display and everyone can appreciate them.

Sopranos Memorabilia

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The answer to question number 12 on DeNiro's aforementioned quiz was "sopranos," anticipating the most-talked about items at the auction. James Gandolfini donated costumes worn while playing Tony Soprano in the HBO series. The collection of his and other outfits from the show looks like a Men's Warehouse clothing store, except for the blood-stained items. Proceeds from the costume sale will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

NASA Stuff

"¢ The Gemini and Apollo astronauts had a special appreciation for chef Lewis Hartzell. They brought his cooking knife and sand tart cookie recipe aboard their spaceships, and both are for sale.

"¢ Astronauts Elliot See, Neil Armstrong, Gordon Cooper, Charles Conrad Jr. and Deke Slayton signed a letter to Hartzell that said, "It is our considered opinion that the quality and quantity of his meals posed a real threat to the space program - we ate so much we almost overloaded the spacecraft before launch!" Their note shows the personal, and perhaps portly, side of the Gemini crew.

Toys, Toys, Toys

darth-blowout.jpgPop culture department head Lipman likes toys. Specifically, he spoke highly of the debut of designer toys at the auction as "the beginning of something new" at Christie's.

"¢ Star Wars has a strong presence. Vintage action toys look through their display case at an army of pink droids from Suckadelic's Gay Empire Attack! and Darth Vader doll with a very fluffy hairdo.

Another droid hangs from a cross, and yes, all graffiti tags on the Star Wars vehicle are in the language Aurebesh. "Conceptually, it's just out there," said Lipman, "It's great."

(Suckadelic also gives droids dance moves.)

"¢ Custom figurines from Kidrobot are also for sale. Graffiti artists bring their work to vinyl toys called "dunny" and "munny" pieces. (The dolls rhyme with "money" for a reason, with bid estimates up to several thousand dollars.)

Music History

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"¢ Photos of Janis Joplin posing in a dark dress and close ups of Jim Morrison are available thanks to mug shots prints from their 1969 and 1970 arrests. Think of it as your own expensive version of The Smoking Gun's celebrity mug shot collection.

"¢ Recording "Stormy Weather" in 1952 cost record producers just the soda and hotdogs they paid the teenage quintet the Five Sharps.

Nearly a decade later, the song became popular—not for its sound, but for its rarity. A record shop owner played it on his radio show and then accidentally broke what turned out to be one of very few disc copies. It became a Holy Grail for music collectors (Random Note: The Holy Grail from Indiana Jones sold at Guernsey's auction house in March). The estimated sale price for the "Stormy Weather" recording is $20,000 to $30,000.

"¢ One of Lipman's favorite items at the auction is a signed photograph of Gypsy Sun and the Rainbows. The band consisted of Jimi Hendrix, Larry Lee, Billy Cox, Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez. At their Woodstock debut, Hendrix corrected the announcer's introduction of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, explaining that the band's full name was Gypsy Sun and the Rainbows (or "Band of Gypsies" for short).

After two more concerts, they disbanded.
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Last year's mid-year pop culture auction fetched a total of $1,237,020. You can find out how much this year's items were worth to collectors after the final gavel tomorrow.

After seeing how much people pay for used staplers, do you have any pop culture memorabilia that might cause a bidding war?
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June 24, 2008 - 1:35pm
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