For the majority who read about celebrities, see their movies, listen to their music, or follow their activities either as passing interest or passionate desire, one cannot deny the influence they have over the public. Not often do they know anyone on an intimate level other than their family or fellow celebrities, but the hordes of masses idolize their every move. Some even memorize the celebrity’s entire biography in an attempt to get closer to them, short of actually meeting their beloved idol.
Not so long ago, a jeweled glove worn by Michael Jackson was auctioned, and it was sold for $49,000. Michael Jackson had given the glove to an Australian during a music show in Australia. MJ’s sudden demise has overnight transformed this small personal effect into a collector’s item! Once an object becomes a collector’s item, its value takes a different course altogether. If the jewels on the glove were to be removed from the glove and sold, they would hardly fetch sums anywhere near the auction value. It is the sentimental value that such things acquire, and this value remains for generations. Following MJ’s demise, the music stores were flooded with customers’ trying to pick what they believed would the last copies of the CDs recorded by the departed singer. Other objects associated with MJ, including MJ’s posters also witnessed a spurt in demand.
MJ is not alone in receiving such form of adulation after his death. Things used by other celebrities like John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis have also found their way into some private collections. Of course, the untimely death of these celebrities does add value to all objects used by them during their lifetimes, be it pen, glasses, etc. The Beatles superstar’s guitar fetched 205,000 sterling pounds in a recent auction. Lennon’s coat also went under the axe and was sold for a jaw-dropping amount. Such fawning over celebrities is more common when the person is from music field. The list includes Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Billie Holiday, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, and Tupac,. Of course Sinatra and Dean Martin were actors as well. And so was James Dean who died at a very young age, and therefore found a place in the hearts of people.
Objects used by contemporary singers like B B King, Bob Dylan, and Mariah Carey, are also in great demand. Many of the celebrities, give away a few of their personal effects during their life times for auctioning so that proceeds may be utilized towards some charities. Members of royal family, like the late princess Diana often gave away her dresses to charities for this purpose. Audrey Hepburn was another famous film personality who was associated with charities. Her roles in films like “My Fair Lady”, “Roman Holiday”, “Sabrina”, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, etc., made her immortal. A whole generation of women grew up idolizing her. Her exemplary way of living continued to draw people towards her long after she’d stopped acting. All the objects associated with her in her movies suddenly became priceless after her demise. The extent to which such craze exists can be imagined from the value the inkpot that was used in My Fair Lady, fetched in 2007. Its value was prior to auction was expected to be between $1,000 and $1,500. For an inkpot to be that valuable is unimaginable.
Even the characters that the celebrities portray acquire a personality of their own. In the last couple of years, Superman’s capes, and Indiana Jones’ whip, have been auctioned, and the collectors bought them at very high prices. Similarly, toys and gizmos based on Indiana Jones' and James Bond's adventures are in the market. Posters, and comics related to such characters have also been in great demand, and are still being produced.
At the end, when all is said and done, all celebrities eventually fade away. Thus, the importance of memorabilia come into play. Memories may keep their legacy alive but it can hardly compete with formerly owned physical items. Items that were once worn, used, or written by the greats have such an enormous emotional impact tied to them that the person who sees them feels for an instant the actuality of meeting the former owner in all his glory. Greater still is the feeling of those who get the privilege of touching these items. It would be similar to being in contact with the great person, living or dead, an experience utterly divine in itself. From items of great historical significance such as the original manuscripts of famous authors, or items of lesser pursuits such as common household objects, celebrity memorabilia can serve as a link between the sky and the earth, between the famous men and women soaring to greater heights and the adoring but unheard of admirer caught in the mundane who loves them beyond measure.