James Brown auction sales prices lower than expected

Otis R. Taylor Jr.
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

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And The Augusta Chronicle reported Brown's Grammy Award for "Living in America" was withdrawn from the auction without explanation.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.

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