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Elvis’ Original 1957 Contract to Purchase Graceland to Be Sold at Auction

by WorthPoint Staff (04/06/10).

Slip of paper signed by Elvis Presley and clipped to a Memphis newspaper, with letter of authenticity will be among the rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia available in a three-day sale facilitated by Philip Weiss Auctions on April 23-25, 2010.

Slip of paper signed by Elvis Presley and clipped to a Memphis newspaper, with letter of authenticity will be among the rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia available in a three-day sale facilitated by Philip Weiss Auctions on April 23-25, 2010.

OCEANSIDE, N.Y. – Philip Weiss Auctions is offering yet another blockbusting piece of rock ‘n’ roll history: the original contract to purchase Graceland in Memphis, Tenn., in 1957, signed by Elvis Presley and both his parents.

This auction comes on the heels of Philip Weiss Auciton’s a successful sale of the original marriage certificate issued to Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, which for $70,800.

The rare document—plus other property contracts signed by Elvis—will be offered on the final day of a massive three-day estate auction planned for the weekend of April 23-25. Additional rock ‘n’ roll lots will include items signed by Buddy Holly and the Beatles, rare concert posters and more.

The consignor of the Elvis documents is a gentleman who had worked at a law firm in Memphis that specialized in real estate. In 1987, the company was purging its old files and one file—marked “Elvis Presley” —was about to be thrown out when the gentleman retrieved it from the trash. He only recently showed the file to an appraiser, to see if the documents had any value.

The first of the original two-page contract to purchase Graceland in 1957 – signed by Elvis Presley and his parents.

The first of the original two-page contract to purchase Graceland in 1957 – signed by Elvis Presley and his parents.

The second page of the Graceland purchase contract, with signatures by Elvis Presley and his parents.

The second page of the Graceland purchase contract, with signatures by Elvis Presley and his parents.

The appraiser—Gary Sohmers, a radio talk show host and frequent appraiser on the PBS series “Antiques Roadshow”—was astounded at what he saw: the purchase and sale agreement (and settlement sheet) for Graceland, the home in Memphis that Presley purchased from Ruth Brown Moore in 1957. The document was signed by Elvis and his parents, Vernon and Gladys Presley.

Also in the file (and to be offered Apr. 25) was the contract to acquire the home Elvis initially purchased in Memphis, at 1034 Audubon Road. That document is also signed by all three Presleys and details the price paid and the terms. Later, when Elvis purchased Graceland, part of the agreement had him turning the Audubon Road property over to Ruth Brown Moore.

Also sold will be the documents for Elvis’s purchase of the Circle G Ranch (then known as Twinkletown Farms), located just south of Memphis, in Mississippi. It is there that Elvis and Priscilla honeymooned, in 1967. After Sohmers and the gentleman discussed the documents and their potential value, the decision was made to consign the group to Philip Weiss Auctions.

It was a logical fit. Philip Weiss Auctions often handles Elvis Presley items and other pop culture memorabilia, and Weiss frequently appears as an appraiser of such items on “Antiques Roadshow.” The remarkable thing is that the documents are coming to auction at all; normally, they remain within a family or get loaned to a museum. Rarely do such items come up for bid.

One-of-a-kind 1966 Beatles Shea Stadium concert poster, in a format previously unseen.

One-of-a-kind 1966 Beatles Shea Stadium concert poster, in a format previously unseen.

Other lots in the auction are nearly as impressive in their rock ‘n’ roll pedigree. Beatles fans will have much to peruse, including an unreleased master reel-to-reel tape of the Beatles’ press conference, in its entirety, in New York City on Aug. 22, 1966, for their appearance at Shea Stadium the following day, along with an extremely rare Beatles Aug. 23 Shea Stadium concert poster in a format previously unseen. It is the same size as the cardboard poster (of which only four are known to exist) and on the same paper stock as the one-sheet poster (of which only one is known to exist).

The poster was printed by the Murray Poster Company for the iconic Aug. 23, 1966 concert, with the yellow and black ink on white paper being from the original printer’s plate, but with no blur in any of the printing anywhere. It is a one-of-a-kind collectible.

Also sold will be the Beatles collection of Joy Waugh Donnell, who was featured on the TV program “48 Hours” and described by Paul McCartney on the show as being “the number one Beatles fan in America.” Her collection bears that out. It includes a first-state pressing of the famous “Yesterday and Today” “butcher cover” album, Remco dolls, car mascot nodders, concert tickets, ephemera and items that were signed for her by all four Beatles before her recent passing.

Record album of Buddy Holly & The Crickets, signed by Holly and the other members of the group.

Record album of Buddy Holly & The Crickets, signed by Holly and the other members of the group.

Also sold will be a Buddy Holly & the Crickets album, signed by Holly and all the members of the group in person in 1959 from an appearance in Canada (to include a picture of Buddy Holly with the consignor who had it autographed), as well as a large selection of psychedelic concert posters and handbills from the 1960s. These include posters from the famed Fillmore East and Fillmore West venues, plus the Family Dog and other iconic rock locations.

Important lots include the Jimi Hendrix “Flying Eyeball” Fillmore concert poster (BG105, first printing), a 1966 Lightnin’ Hopkins at the Matrix in San Francisco poster, a poster for the MC5 in Berkeley, a 1966 Yardbirds Fillmore concert poster (first printing, with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page), a Grateful Dead at Fillmore West poster and numerous handbill lot groupings.

Many rare and collectible concert posters from historic rock venues of the 1960s will be up for bid.

Many rare and collectible concert posters from historic rock venues of the 1960s will be up for bid.

The first day of the auction (Friday, Apr. 23, at 6 p.m.) will feature toys and trains, with names like American Flyer, Lionel and other makers. Also sold will be toys, wind-ups, cast-iron, pressed steel trucks, a Cragstan Radical Robot with original box, cast-iron banks (Bread Winner, Fowler, Panorama) and more. The Friday part of the auction will also include 80 lots of vintage 1977-through-1983 “Star Wars” action figures, play sets and vehicles in their original packaging.

The next day (Saturday, Apr. 24, at 10 a.m.) will feature the comprehensive, extensive Edward Ryan collection of paper and toy soldiers, as well as French military items. Offered will be over 120 boxed Britains sets, important reference material, uncut paper soldier sheets, rare French military paraphernalia, important French political and military autographs and more.

Highlights will include a wonderful selection of boxed paper soldier sets by Milton Bradley, Raphael Tuck, McLoughlin and Parker Brothers (to include a rare “The War in Cuba, a Game for Boys,” still in the box), dioramas (including many hand-painted by Mr. Ryan), scarce Lineol and Elastolin sets, a large selection of flats, Authenticast, Mignot and many other makers.

Military memorabilia will include rare original early 19th century French Shako hats and plates, early swords, original military art (to include Edouard Detaille), important Napoleonic documents and signatures, toy soldiers from several estates and other items. Online bidding for the auction will be facilitated by Proxibid.com. Phone and absentee bids will also be accepted.

For more information about this auction, call 516.594.0731, e-mail to phil@prwauctions.com or visit the Philip Weiss Auctions Web site.

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