Autopsy tools used on Elvis removed from auction

Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:17pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A grisly collection of autopsy tools used to prepare Elvis Presley's body has been removed from auction after doubts were raised about their provenance and authenticity.

Chicago-based Leslie Hindman Auctioneers last week said rubber gloves, forceps, lip brushes, a comb, eye liner, needle injectors, and a toe tag, all of which were used on Presley ahead of his funeral in 1977, would go on sale on August 12.

The instruments were said to have been saved for years by an anonymous, retired embalmer at the Memphis Funeral Home. The auctioneer estimated a sale price of up to $14,000.

But Mary Williams, a spokeswoman for the auction house, said the instruments had been withdrawn from auction after the funeral operator laid claim to them.

"Due to questions of ownership, the retired embalmer and his son have decided to turn over the property to the Memphis Funeral Home and its parent company, Service Corporation International, with the intention of donation," Williams said in a statement.

Memphis Funeral Home President E.C. Daves also told The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Tennessee that there was no way to tell whether the items being offered for sale were authentic.

He said the retired embalmer claims he took the items after Presley was embalmed, but another employee told him the equipment was sterilized and used again.

Daves said the funeral home had no plans to take any legal action if the items were returned.

When announcing the sale last week, Williams admitted the auction may be controversial as some people "are going to be disappointed" by the sale of these items.   Continued...

<p>A spectator wears a T-shirt displaying a portrait of Elvis Presley during a concert at Bangkok's Chalermkrung theatre January 18, 2009 to mark the late Presley's birthday which was on January 8. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom</p>