Big turnout, but not bucks, at James Brown auction

Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:46pm EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A controversial auction of soul singer James Brown's personal belongings fell short of expectations on Thursday, with more than 300 lots on offer taking in just over $850,000 at Christie's.

The auction, which followed months of legal wrangling over Brown's estate involving several children, ex-wives and girlfriends and others, won 11th hour clearance from a South Carolina judge only on Monday, perhaps depressing the total, which had been forecast at between $1 million and $2 million.

Brown's trademark capes often worn during his raucous performances were among two of the sale's top three lots, with David Letterman band director Paul Shaffer successfully bidding Brown's medical bracelet, estimated at $200 to $300, up to $32,500 including commission.

A black satin "James Brown" full length embroidered cape fetched $47,500 and was bought by an unidentified institution, while a red leather furniture set sold for $40,000, or 20 times its high estimate.

Despite the lower-than-expected results, Christie's pop culture specialist Simeon Lipman noted a packed sale room in which "relics from his public and private persona were sought after by collectors as demonstrated by the top selling items, which ranged from his iconic stage-worn capes and instruments, to his living room furniture and a medical ID bracelet."

Among other highlights was a denim jumpsuit, studded with GFOS (Godfather of Soul), which fetched $25,000.

In all 97 percent of the 317 lots on offer found buyers for a total of $857,688.

'SAD DAY'   Continued...