When you are a hardcore autograph collector and you’ve purchased autographs (come on, we all have), there’s one thing we sometimes do. We look at the price of things we buy in everyday life and think of what autograph item would could get for the same price.
You’re buying a new car for $28,000…okay, perfect. But…the same model that’s two years old, has low miles…is only $18,000. Saving $10,000…I could buy that signed Beatles program I saw on that auction website last week.
I had this same logic when RR Auction (which Roger Epperson is the music expert for) had one last month. I was thinking about it because the winner of this item is a real estate investor from my hometown of San Diego.
It’s a photo of Diana Spencer (Princess Di). She’s a teenager, and years before she was to become the Princess of Wales. The words “not to be published” are marked across it, which I would think decreases the value. Yet the way the auction went, I’m guessing it had the opposite effect.
It sold for $18,306. And my first thought – it wasn’t even autographed by her! My second thought – I could buy a Rolling Stones signed guitar, and still have $10,000 left over!
The photo shows friends relaxing on a ski trip. Diana is on a bed, with a young man seated behind her, and a bottle of whiskey on the window sill. A British newspaper had acquired this after her engagement to Prince Charles, but they decided it would be an embarrassing thing for the royal family. It’s just odd that stamping those words across the picture was their solution. It seems that, by not doing that, at least you’d have the photo in case you ever did need to publish it. Especially since it’s now been “published” anyway – and I’m guessing the paper didn’t make any money or scoop anybody by having it. Somebody that took the photo or made a copy, just made a few sweet bucks off it.
All of this got me thinking about the times I would spend on The Doors website. It was my favorite band, and I’d like to hear what other fans had to say about the group. We’d occasionally talk about meeting the guys in the group and getting our records and CDs signed. Well, one day a guy was excited because he paid $15,000 for a naked photo of Jim Morrison and his common law wife Pamela Courson. I tried explaining to him that he overpaid. He said the photographer was only making 20 prints, and that would keep their value up. He wouldn’t show anybody the photo, but described it. I immediately thought of the famous John Lennon/Yoko Ono shot. I said, “What happens when this photographer dies and his family acquires all his stuff? They could sell all the negatives, and who knows what ends up happening.”
This guy was so thrilled with his purchase, he didn’t agree with anything I was saying. He told me this goofy sales pitch the photographer did where he said something like “The first five pictures I sell, I’m selling for $5,000 each. The second five I’m selling, are going to be for $7,500.” It went on like this until the 20 were sold, and that was it. A “limited edition” of 20, and this guy was sold on the deal. It made the guy panic and think he needed to buy one right away.
I chuckled to myself, thinking about the time somebody was selling handwritten lyrics to a Doors song for $10,000. I was negotiating with them, trying to get the piece for $5,000. After not finding a buyer, they put it up for auction. I was bidding just over $5,000 before I dropped out. And I was pissed to find out it sold for just below $6,000. I would’ve paid that price.
But those are lyrics written in Morrisons handwriting. He died in 1971, and there are very few song lyrics by him in existence. The value goes up. Naked photos rarely do.