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  • Music memorabilia: 2016 auction review
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • 2016musicreview

Music memorabilia: 2016 auction review

Music memorabilia is a growing sector of the auction industry and this year saw some truly fascinating pieces cross the block.

As always, items associated with heritage acts like the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley were in high demand.

But this year buyers embraced artists from other eras, with records set for romantic composers and rappers alike.

We expect things to get really interesting next year.

Top music memorabilia sale 2016

Mahler's Second Symphony is an extraordinary piece of music that has transfixed audiences since it was first performed in 1895.


Mahler's Second Symphony realised a record $4.5m in July

No wonder that the composer's original score for the work made a record $4.5m at Sotheby's in July.

The manuscript comes from the collection of the late Gilbert Kaplan, an American entrepreneur who became utterly obsessed with the work after hearing it for the first time in the 1960s.

He explained: "Zeus threw the bolt of lightning. I walked out of that hall a different person".

2016's most important music memorabilia sales


Jimi Hendrix used to play this guitar in the bathroom  

While it's hard to imagine Hendrix playing anything other than a Fender Stratocaster, at home he had to play on an acoustic guitar to avoid annoying the neighbours. That guitar, a humble Epiphone, realised £209,000 ($260,414) at Bonhams on December 19.

Blowin' in the Wind is one of Bob Dylan's best known songs, making this original set of lyrics a key piece of memorabilia for any fan. The fact that he received the Nobel Prize for Literature this year only increased the lot's desirability. It made $324,500 at Sotheby's New York on December 12.

Prince was one of the many names we lost this year. He leaves behind a truly remarkable legacy. That's why this iconic yellow cloud guitar made an impressive $137,000 shortly after he died in June.

There aren't many pieces of rock memorabilia more instantly recognisable than the jumpsuits Elvis wore in the 1970s. This particularly eye-catching number made $325,000 in October, becoming the second most valuable piece of Elvis memorabilia ever sold.

The most unusual music memorabilia sale of 2016


Doorman Jay Hastings' bloodstained shirt tells the story of John Lennon's last moments

This was the shirt Jay Hastings, doorman at the Dakota, was wearing when John Lennon was shot dead in 1980.

Hastings was one of the first on the scene and tended to the singer as he lay dying.

Gary Shrum of Heritage Auctions (which handled the sale) explained: "There are remnants of blood on the shirt. Some people might be appalled but it's a piece of history. We did ask ourselves 'is this too dark or wrong to sell' but I don't think it is.

"He [Hastings] is not exploiting John Lennon's death. He is telling the story of how he tried to help John Lennon in the last few minutes of his life."

The lot made $42,500.

It was a breakout year for…


'Is Thug Life Dead?' Tupac asks. Apparently not.

Tupac Shakur was on the rap scene for less than 10 years but left a huge impact.

This handwritten letter he sent from prison in the 1990s set a phenomenal new record for a piece of rap memorabilia at auction in November, selling for $172,750 at Goldin Auctions.

It was a year to forget for…


Lennon was clearly furious when he wrote this letter


The problem with fame is that sometimes your dirty laundry gets aired in public. This seething letter from John Lennon to Paul and Linda McCartney made $29,843 on November 17.

One you may have missed


Ozzy Osbourne shares stories of his first trip to Europe with his parents


One of our favourite lots of the year was this rather sweet pair of postcards Ozzy Osbourne (aka the Prince of Darkness) sent his mum while touring in Europe in the late 1960s.

From France he writes: "Arrived here safely, but it is not a very nice place, I don't think the people like long hair."

The postcards (along with other items connected with Osbourne's old band, Earth) were withdrawn from the sale. They were bought privately by the Osbourne family.

  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • 2016musicreview