Feel like being a sex machine? Bid for a James Brown jumpsuit
Grab a final slice of the late Godfather of Soul as 350 items of personal memorabilia go up for sale
Thursday 17 July 2008
Make way, the Godfather of Soul will be in the house today. Clarification: the house is Christie's in New York, while the man, James Brown, is no longer with us. But be ready for the grand sale of some 350 items of the late, great soul singer's memorabilia, from a sofa (in green vinyl) to hair curlers.
It is an event that will attract everyone from museum curators to fans still crushed by the loss of one of the most colourful – if troubled – musical figures of late 20th century. If the jumpsuit worn by Brown in 1974 in the concert before the Ali-Foreman Rumble in the Jungle boxing showdown in Zaire is beyond your wallet, consider perhaps bidding for a sepia picture of him taken when he was nine (Estimated price: $500 (£250).)
A judge ordered the sale of Brown's private possessions last February to help his estate pay off debts. But even until the last minute, Christie's were not sure it would happen thanks to the continuing court wrangles between the trustees of the Brown estate and two of his former managers. Then on Monday an appeals judge in South Carolina, where the singer maintained a mansion, said the auction could proceed.
Brown died on Christmas Day 2006 aged 73, robbing the music world of a giant whose hit songs included "Sex Machine", "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", "Say it Loud – I'm Black and I'm
Proud" and "Living in America". The Grammy for that last song, recorded in 1986, is among the lots today.
But, just as his private life was marked by turmoil, including run-ins with the taxman and multiple wives, so in death Brown's affairs have triggered fraught probate battles. His will named six children as heirs. But two former managers, Albert Dallas and Alfred Bradley, are contesting the authority of trustees overseeing the singer's 62-acre home in Beech Island, South Carolina, which some family members want to see converted into a tourist attraction similar to Graceland, the former Elvis Presley home, in Memphis.
Christie's expects the sale to fetch as much as £1m. Aside from assorted performance jumpsuits, some with SEX embroidered across the midriff, highlighted lots include the round, vinyl sofa and, of course, the hair curling set, which includes 80 rollers, picks, combs and numerous cans of lotion. Also in the catalogue are a Hammond B-3 electric organ and a black cape embroidered with his name.
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