Published: September 28, 2004
Bidders from around the world competed via telephone and over the Internet for the collection of the late musician and his wife, June Carter Cash, in a series of six auctions at Sotheby’s September 14-16.
The majority of rdf_Descriptions exceeded expectations, with a 1986 Grammy Award to Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Sam Phillips, Rick Nelson and Chips Moman selling for $187,200 to attain top lot status.
The sale’s three-day total was $3,984,260, exceeding the high estimate of $1.5 million, and the sale was 99 percent sold by lot and 98.4 percent by amount.
Musical instruments from the country music legends were also sought after, with two of Cash’s guitars, a 1960s Grammer custom acoustic guitar and a 1997 D-42JC Signature Model black Martin guitar, selling for $131,200.
“This is, by far, the most extensive auction ever of a country music performer and one of the most important sales of an entertainer, period. Johnny and June’s influence in the music world transcended country, and that was clearly evident in our salesroom this week with intense interest spanning both generations and geography,” commented Leila Dunbar, director of the gallery’s collectibles department.
Among the most sought-after pieces were the Cashes’ personal instruments, which sparked competitive bidding and fetched many times over their high estimates.
A 1997 Grammy award presented to Johnny Cash for Unchained is among other awards that achieved impressive prices, selling for $84,000. Widely regarded as Cash’s comeback album, the 1994 Grammy award for American Recordings, the first release to receive rave reviews in a number of years, went for $72,000. Also notable was the National Medal of Arts awarded to Johnny Cash, which sold for $25,200.
Among the pieces of the Cashes’ stage-worn clothing was Johnny’ Cash’s famous Manuel black fringed coat, featured in the 2002 Hurt video, which sold for $27,600, and his Manuel floral embroidered three-piece black suit that achieved a price of $10,800. Cash’s iconic Manuel black duster, which he wore on the cover of American Recordings and Unchained, sold for $10,200. Also impressive was a pair of his knee-high black alligator boots, worn on numerous occasions in the 1970s, which sold for $10,800.
Rounding out the sale were myriad photographs, concert posters, letters and personal rdf_Descriptions such as binoculars, canes, cancelled checks, credit cards, passports, driver’s licenses and Johnny Cash’s collection of honorary sheriffs’ badges. An original autographed 1959 concert poster for Johnny Cash and his Tennessee Two brought $25,200.
Among numerous lyrics offered was a partial notebook of handwritten lyrics to several early Johnny Cash songs, providing a glimpse into the birth of one of music’s greatest talents. Featuring songs such as “Cry, Cry, Cry,” “Get Rhythm,” and “I Get So Doggone Lonesome,” the notebook sold for $14,400.
Johnny Cash’s 2002 Ford F-150 black pickup truck sold for $66,000 after a battle ensued between two telephone bidders. Selling for $25,200 was the US flag that flew over the White House on July 4, 1976, where the Cashes were invited to perform and serve as parade marshals for the bicentennial celebration. Estimated to sell for $800/1,200, the flag was a gift from President Gerald Ford.
Highlighting the Cashes’ personal collection of fine art, furniture and decorative pieces is Frederic Remington’s bronze sculpture “The Outlaw,” which was featured in the Hurt video and sold for $84,000. The bronze’s counterpart, Remington’s “The Bronco Buster,” achieved $60,000. An owl and snake cane made of carved and painted wood that Cash often used to walk the perimeter of his property in Hendersonville, Tenn., brought an astounding $78,000, and a pair of American silver-footed centerpieces, Tiffany & Co, New York, designed by Paulding Farnham, circa 1900, brought $42,000.
Prices reported include buyer’s premium.
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