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POP MUSIC | POP EYE

Taking Bids

September 22, 1996|Steve Hochman

If magazine covers are one way to measure the cultural status of deceased stars, another is to watch the demand for items owned by or connected to them in auctions and sales.

By that standard, Cobain's legacy remains strong--and is climbing into the rarefied air of Elvis and the Beatles. It's not just big-ticket items, like the guitar (complete with dried blood from his fingers) that was auctioned last year in New York for $17,000, that command interest. There's even a solid market for seemingly meaningless items.

As part of a "Rock 'n' Reel" auction of celebrity memorabilia on Saturday and next Sunday, Executive Collectibles in Newport Beach is offering such Cobain detritus as a pimple medication bottle he used (expected price range: $300-$500) and a piece of Publishers Clearing House junk mail sent to the rocker's Los Angeles house (range: $200-$300).

The Cobain selections--which Executive Collectibles President William Hughes says are on consignment from a former friend of Cobain and his widow, Courtney Love, and come with documentation--also include such items as a bride and groom snow globe from the couple's wedding cake ($800-$1,000) and a signed discharge form from one of Cobain's stays in a drug rehab facility ($1,000-$1,500).

Hughes says there were several items he refused to sell as a matter of taste, including a spoon used by Cobain in preparing heroin for injection.

Stevie Ray Vaughan, who died in 1990, is also rapidly climbing on the collectibles market, with an even more personal, historical and, of course, pricey item featured in this sale: a set list from his very final performance, autographed to a friend just minutes before Vaughan climbed aboard the helicopter that then crashed on a Wisconsin hillside. The official estimated value: $8,000-$10,000.

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