Someone paid almost $220,000 this weekend for a pair of old sandals—Birkenstocks, no less—personally owned and worn by Steve Jobs, but the rest of Julien’s Auctions’ “Icons and Idols: Rock ‘N’ Roll” sale was not so weird.
The top-seller of the Beverly Hills auction house’s three-day event at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York was Kurt Cobain’s 1973 Fender Mustang, which went for $486,400 following an original estimate of $200,000.
The Nirvana frontman smashed the instrument on stage at the Sonic Temple in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania during the band’s first tour on July 9, 1989—just over two years before the single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit, ending non-ironic hair metal, ushering in the 90s, and making Seattle a thing. Following the smashing of the Mustang, Cobain traded it to Sluggo Cawley of the band Hullabaloo, inscribing it, “Yo Sluggo / Thank for the trade/ If its illegal to Rock and Roll, then throw my ass in jail/ Nirvana.” (Again, the unique and astounding lyricism of Nevermind was still only percolating at the time).
Another estimate-smasher was a pair of John Lennon’s round, wire-rimmed “Granny” glasses, photo-matched to a pair he wore on the cover of the 1988 biography The Lives of John Lennon by Albert Goldman. The specs sold for $162,500 following an estimate of $60,000.
Of course, there were treasures to be had by American music aficionados of all tastes—for instance, a Las Vegas Cowboy shirt worn by Elvis Presley at the Bon Air Club in 1954. Elvis didn’t like any cheap stuff on his back, and this number went for $31,250. That is one hell of a shirt there, fella.
And it should go without saying that a shirt like that commands a fine accessory, and it was only ever the top of the line for the King—as evidenced by the 18k gold and diamond Ebel brand wristwatch Elvis purchased in 1972, and which someone took back to their own Graceland for $256,000.
Also on the block, for reasons that remain unclear, were a pair of beat-up old leather sandals owned by Steve Jobs. Also, they are Birkenstocks, brown suede leather Birkenstock Arizonas. The Apple co-founder’s hippie footwear was estimated to go for $60,000 and ended up taking in $218,750. Not quite the ruby slippers, but whatever floats one’s boat, we suppose.