2015, Julien’s Auction In Beverly Hills, California, Kurt Cobain sold a fuzzy green mohair blend sweater worn in Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged” episode for $ 140,800. Four years later, the stained glass cardigan is back in the auction block. Then it went for $ 334,000. Today, Darren Julien, owner of Julien’s, an 18-year-old auction house that frequently hosts the sale of celebrity property, believes that the same dirty sweater will probably get twice as much. “I offered $ 500,000 to $ 700,000 to get the buyer to sell it,” he said. For now, the anonymous owner keeps the Coburn cardigan. But it doesn’t matter to Julian. He has a lot of very attractive celebrity clothes that fill the auction calendar.
Julian is a rare company that trades celebrity-owned relics almost entirely nostalgic, although there are other auction houses, such as Heritage and Sotheby’s working on pop culture items. “We specialize in what people don’t need, but what they want,” said Julian, such as the guitars used on the tour, the furniture of the star’s house, and many famous clothes. He paid $ 1.26 million for Martin Zweig’s sale of the groundbreaking Christie’s in 1999, and Marilyn Monroe wore a sexy dress to sing “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy. I established the business four years after I bought it. In 2016, Julian sold the same beaded flesh-colored gown for $ 4.8 million on behalf of Mr. Zweig’s widow.
For Julian, the pop culture auctioning business has steadily exploded in the last few years, thanks to the wealth of money in her 20s and 40s, until the mid-2010s. “The wealthy millennials don’t want Picasso and Monet. They want pop culture,” Julian said. “It’s what connects them, and as you know, it’s the most attractive to them.”
In January, a set of seven outfits worn by K-POP band BTS in the 2020 “Dynamite” video sold for $ 162,500, well above the $ 40,000 high estimate for lots. This set was purchased by two Japanese bidders, Yusaku Maezawa (45 years old), a billionaire and art collector, and Hikakin, a 32-year-old YouTuber.A video of a duo who was happy to win the auction posted on Mr. Maezawa’s account Viewed over 3 million times..
In April, Bill Murray wore Air Jordan sneakers in the 1996 movie Space Jam, a millennial favorite that brought in a high $ 7,000 estimate of $ 22,400. And just two weeks ago, in line with Janet Jackson’s birthday, Julian hosted a three-day auction of her belongings, including some of the singer’s original early MTV era outfits. Julien’s does not disclose the buyer’s identity without permission, but some bidders are proud of their purchases on social media.
Film director and Janet super fan Matthew A. Cherry, 39 years old, Boast on Twitter About robbing Jackson’s Varsity Jacket from the 66th Academy Awards. The black coat earned $ 2,240. That’s more than 11 times that $ 200 high estimate. And 40-year-old Kim Kardashian boasted on Instagram that he bought Jackson’s outfit from the 1993 “If” music video. Kardashian, who paid the ensemble $ 25,000, spewed online that she was Jackson’s “such a fan.”
When Julian auctions with celebrities like Jackson and stars like Ringo Starr and Nancy Sinatra, each item comes from the celebrity’s personal belongings, not the collector’s hiding place. Besides helping the stars clean up their costumes and old instruments that have been thrown out of storage space, many celebrities are using auctions to raise money for selected charities, Julian said. He said past celebrities donated 10 to 100% of auction revenue everywhere. Jackson donated a private portion of the funds raised at the auction to Compassion International, a global child advocacy group.
In particular, the three stars mentioned above are still alive. Historically, when it comes to pop culture relics, the situation has changed, although it was assumed that the star’s possessions would be more valuable if the star died. Leila DunbarShe has been running an independent appraisal service since 2008, she said, believing that “living celebrity souvenirs” sell as much as souvenirs from dead stars. Dunbar is one of the few auction-world appraisers who specializes in pop culture souvenirs, as well as personal collectors and museum merchandise. This is still a relatively niche area compared to the art auction market.
Dunbar said buyers really only care about having an “emotional connection” to everything they are bidding on, whether it’s Michael Jackson’s gloves or a pair of Pokemon cards.
That emotional attraction attracted former art gallerist David Davis, 69, who began buying clothes worn by celebrities at Julian’s auction. Davis purchased the first article from Julian in 2009. The hat that Barbra Streisand wore in one of his favorite movies, “What’s Up Doc?” In 1972, has since purchased dozens more. His collection includes four outfits: Paul McCartney’s slate gray suit on the back cover photo of his early Beatles album, Amy Winehouse’s orange-trimmed kimono from the “Rehab” video, and Char. is included. All the clothes spoke to him in some way, causing memories of the past. For a while, he had 20 mannequins around his house, all dressed like his favorite stars. “I had to tour,” he said when the guest came in.
However, not all buyers are emotionally driven. Julian knows a hedge fund manager who is investing in a portfolio to invest in pop culture and hears from buyers who are currently treating celebrity souvenirs as a pure investment.
In recent years, Davis hasn’t spent much money on celebrity clothing. The market has simply become too enthusiastic. Personally, Davis is more interested in collecting historic photographs, a previously uncompetitive market.
As for Julian, the business only exploded further during the pandemic. During Covid, Julien’s livestreamed all auctions, and Julien secretly stated that this was one of the most powerful years of his home to date.
To meet demand, Julian has in advance a full slate of the auction, including one dedicated to the musical icon in June of this year. The auction catalog was deleted today Wear a tan double-breasted suit With Mick Jagger in the 70’s Striped glasses Worn on stage by Elton John.
Write to Jacob Gallagher Jacob.Gallagher@wsj.com
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