The auction of James Brown’s personal possessions by Christie’s in New York on Thursday produced some jaw-dropping surprises.
But the $857,688 brought in from the more than 300 items sold was on the short end of the auction house’s pre-sale estimates.
Still, there was intense interest in some items. A medical bracelet engraved with Brown’s name and noting he was diabetic and allergic to penicillin was projected to go for $200 to $300.
The final tally: an astounding $32,500.
Paul Shaffer, band leader for “The Late Show With David Letterman,” was one of the bidders on the bracelet. An unnamed private bidder won it.
Shaffer did win a blue satin cape, embroidered with “Thy Name Is Godfather of Soul,” for $35,000, a price about $15,000 higher than predicted.
Another surprise: A hand-tinted photograph of Brown at age 9 was listed at $500. It sold for $5,000.
There were some disappointments, though.
Two red suits, each with a projected price of $2,000 to $3,000, sold for $625 and $1,000. And a set of handwritten lyrics, with a price of $2,000 to $3,000, was one of 12 items that didn’t sell at all.
Brown’s Hammond B-3 organ sold for $10,000, about $5,000 less than the low estimate.
And The Augusta Chronicle reported Brown’s Grammy Award for “Living in America” was withdrawn from the auction without explanation.
But a furniture suite sold for $40,000 - the second-highest bid of the day, after the $47,500 an unnamed institution paid for a beaded black cape - and a set of side chairs sold for $9,375.
Ten pairs of Brown’s shoes sold in one lot for $15,000.
And an autographed Dancin’ Shoutin’ James Brown doll that performs “I Feel Good” and was displayed in Brown’s living room sold for $750. It had been projected at $200 to $300.
That’s music to someone’s ears.