For sale: a doctor's memories of Marilyn and Elvis

Guy Adams
Thursday 28 May 2009 00:00 BST

Pill bottles that belonged to Elvis Presley, a selection of Marilyn Monroe's off-licence receipts and some of the last items of clothing that either star wore before their untimely deaths are to be sold at auction in Las Vegas.

The grisly selection of memorabilia and medical paraphernalia includes personal effects that belonged to Presley's physician, George "Dr Nick" Nichopoulos, such as a "nasal douche" which the so-called King of Rock'n'Roll used to treat his sinuses and irrigate his throat before each concert.

The two-day sale in June includes a number of items from a separate collection of Monroe's property, including two bricks from her house, signed cheques, alcohol receipts, an umbrella and a dressing gown purported to be the last garment she wore before she died from a drug overdose, which is expected to fetch $6,000 (£3,745).

It also contains guns, jewellery and four bottles of medication Dr Nichopoulos issued on 15 August 1977, the day before "The King" died on the toilet from a prescription drug overdose.

Those products were at the centre of an investigation that saw Dr Nick charged and acquitted of over-prescribing controlled substances to the singer in the months before his death.

They formed part of a travelling collection at local casinos but Dr Nichopoulos, 81, is no longer able to continue touring, so is selling 45 of the items through the California memorabilia company Julien's Auctions. The collection is expected to sell for between $200,000 and $400,000.

"Elvis was a very big giver, and he gave a lot of things away," Dr Nichopoulos told Bloomberg yesterday. "[The collection] kind of describes Elvis in a way: some of his interests, like he loved guns and sheriffs' badges and books and religious things and jewellery. It gives you an idea of some of the things he was interested in."

Though Las Vegas and restraint are not often associated, the sale has been criticised in some quarters for overstepping the boundaries of taste.

Priscilla Presley, Elvis's wife from 1967 to 1973, said she was "very disappointed" in Dr Nick's decision to sell the items: "That a doctor could betray a patient who trusted his professional advice, trusted his integrity, trusted his right to privacy, but mostly his loyalty, is beyond my comprehension."

All shook up: Elvis's pills

Twenty-four hours before his death Elvis was prescribed a pack of 50mg Benadryl tablets, one of the oldest anti-histamines taken for allergies such as hay fever. Did Elvis suffer from allergies? Or did he just enjoy the woozy feeling induced by the powerful sedative effect common to all first generation anti-histamines?

In the 1970s, anti-histamines were used, and abused, as sleeping pills and as part of a cocktail with alcohol and other recreational drugs. Elvis also used a nasal douche to irrigate his sinuses and treat his throat. In heavy overdose Benadryl can cause a heart attack.

Jeremy Laurance

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