Which of these things is not like the others? (Why did Christies host a punk rock auction?)

Posted: December 2, 2008 by Carrie Waite in art, books, Carrie Waite, music
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

By Carrie Waite

Monet   Monet (last sold for $80.4 million)
Stradivarius (last sold for $3.5 million)

Stradivarius (last sold for $3.5 million)

Crusty Ass Sex Pistols T-Shirt (last sold for $375)

Crusty Ass Sex Pistols T-Shirt (last sold for $375)

I’ve been obsessively mulling over the sales from the Punk/Rock Auction at Christies last Monday. Note that’s Punk/Rock, not Punk Rock. The majority of the auction was your typical Beatles/Elvis memorabilia. And does a violin signed by The Three Tenors classify as either Punk or Rock? Um, no.

The cultural implications of this type of auction didn’t really register when I first read about it last week in the New York Times.  Then the headline came across my RSS feed reader again today and I was curious just how much someone would pay for an original Clash Poster ($2,750 apparently).  I mean, Christies Auction House symbolizes the tippity top of the upper-echelon, right? Who else could afford to pay $13.5 million for a Basquiat that used to belong to the drummer from Metallica?

If the hippies became the yuppies, then what have the punks become? The puppies? Yeah, I know, that’s stupid.  I think we need a new term for the former anti-establishment. Any ideas?

As it turns out, after looking through the lots, it’s obvious that the upper-crust isn’t ready for the filth and the fury. Most of the “Punk” items sold for far less than their estimated value, except for the photo of Debbie Harry which sold for more than 5x the estimate.

A few highlights:

The highest selling “Punk” item of the auction, an autographed photo of Debbie Harry , sold for $8750 (estimated value $1,000 – $1,500).

The first two issues of “Bomp“, sold for $63 (estimated value $500 – $700).

Limited edition signed photo of Lou Reed from the cover of Transformer by photographer Mick Rock, sold for $1875 (estimated value $2,000 – $3,000).

The lot I wish I’d been there to purchase, a pair of rare Patti Smith poetry books, sold for $125 (estimated value $300 – $500). 

  1. Deborah Frost says:

    Debbie Harry’s old shoes (not to mention sweat socks) would sell for even more. There is NO accounting for taste (and/or lack thereof).

  2. Deborah Frost says:

    Preferably unwashed socks, naturellement.

  3. Carrie says:

    There’s a very real market for women’s dirty (sweaty) socks and hosiery on eBay….

  4. Lea says:

    What do you think my mom would’ve gotten for Patti Smith’s prom dress?

  5. Stephanie Koppel says:

    I want Debbie Harry’s socks AND her Stilettos.
    Of course, I’d also pay an ungodly amount for Joan Jett’s shoelace.

  6. Deborah Frost says:

    Books? WHO needs ’em?

  7. Deborah Frost says:

    Stephanie, I’m afraid you would STRANGLE yourself with Joan Jett’s shoelace. You cannot be allowed to play with that under any circumstances. In fact, I think she should take it off her neck right this minute before anyone else gets any ideas and is hurt with it.

  8. Deborah Frost says:

    A market for sweaty socks– give me the link immediately! Now THAT’s how I’ll make my fortune!

  9. Stephanie Koppel says:


  10. ed feltch says:

    Never mind the blocks

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