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Easy come, easy go at Elvis Presley auction

Locks of his hair go for $15,000, two shirts for $80,000. Sweaty scarves fetch $1,900. No word on the blue suede shoes.

October 19, 2009|Georgia Garvey

CHICAGO — When John Urso left Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on Sunday, he carried two shirts carefully hung and wrapped in plastic -- shirts too small for him to wear.

But then again, it would be a shame to risk spilling spaghetti sauce on cloth that may have touched the king of rock 'n' roll.

"It's worth every penny," said Urso, who bought the priciest item in a Chicago auction of Presley memorabilia that included locks of Presley's hair allegedly from his famous 1958 Army haircut.

Urso passed on the $15,000 hair, but he bought a white cotton shirt with "EP" monogrammed on the chest for $52,000. His second buy, a relative bargain at $28,000, was a red Ultrasuede shirt Presley wore for a photo shoot.

"I'm a huge fan of Elvis Presley," said Urso, who lives in Inverness, Ill. "Huge fan."

Urso plans to show off the shirts in display cases alongside signed Presley albums.

Another fan hoping to take home a piece of the king, Adam Holbrook, wanted Presley memorabilia as a present for his 30th birthday -- which is today. Holbrook, described by his girlfriend, Erin Shiloh, as "crazy obsessed" with the singer, sports mutton-chop sideburns and three Elvis tattoos.

Holbrook said he wound up taking home some Presley dolls, not at all disappointed to be outbid on his top items.

Items sold Sunday were from the collection of Gary Pepper, the president of a Presley fan club who became friends with him. Pieces included a birthday telegram from Presley to Pepper (sold for $1,400) and photos from Presley's 1967 wedding ($4,000).

For $1,900, a bidder picked up concert scarves said to have been sweated on by Presley.

On top of the purchase price, successful bidders must pay 22% in fees to the auction house.

Urso said when he realized the hair was going for such a "cheap" price, he almost bought that too.

But "what am I gonna do with the hair?" said Urso, who owns Frontline Communications Corp., a cable contractor for Comcast, along with his wife.

Leslie Hindman, chief executive of the auction house, said she expected the hair to go for a "bit more" than the $15,000 winning bid placed by phone.

In this economy, though, "nobody's going to buy a hunk of a hair for a crazy price," she said.

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ggarvey@tribune.com

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