A gold and diamond lion head ring Elvis Presley gave to a friend was the star of a sale at Graceland on January 7.
The piece realised $35,000 against a $15,000 estimate, an increase of 133.3%.
Stories abound of Elvis’ extraordinary generosity to friends, fans and ordinary people he happened to come into contact with.
This ring is originally from the collection of Charlie Hodge, who met Elvis while serving in the army with him in Germany in 1958.
They remained close and Hodge later became both his stage manager and a member of his band. He also lived for many years as part of Elvis’ entourage (aka the Memphis Mafia) at Graceland.
A Belgian fan acquired the ring, along with 11 others, from Hodge after meeting him at a convention in the 1980s.
Elvis often wore jewellery with a lion head motif
The fan explains in a letter of provenance: “He [Hodge] was a bit shocked to hear a teenager asking if he had any of Elvis’ stuff for sale, but I convinced him that I was very, very serious about expanding my Elvis collection with as many personal items as possible….
“He showed me a small black box full of rings, and said Elvis had asked him to hold on to them at some point in the early 70’s and then had never asked for them again afterwards.
“He said this kind of stuff would happen all the time, because Elvis would go through a lot of rings and other jewelry all the time…
“Within minutes we agreed on a price for all 12 rings that were in the box. I was short so I borrowed some money from my parents, and we left with a dozen of Elvis’ rings!”
The amount of jewellery Elvis gave away means the market is saturated. However, this example will likely beat its estimate because it shows a lion.
Elvis was particularly fond of the lion’s head motif and so it holds a special symbolism for fans. This in turn drives up up.
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