LOS ANGELES — From Cher’s used Hummer to Wayne Gretzky’s old hockey sticks to Ozzy Osbourne’s guitar, anybody can have a piece of celebrity — for a price.
If you were flush with cash and wanted to sit on a throne fit for a rock star, for example, you could have bought the late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia’s toilet for $2,500, the price it fetched at auction last year.
But don’t fret about lost opportunity. Not when you could spend today and Saturday bidding on any of the hundreds of items belonging to Osbourne, the heavy metal rocker and former star of “The Osbournes” hit TV series.
For the right price, you could be driving to work Monday in the Oz Man’s 2006 Bentley, a car that always put him in heaven, he says, when he would “crank up the sound system as loud as it would go.”
If that’s too pricey (the auction catalog lists its value at $160,000 to $180,000), there’s Osbourne’s guitar-shaped table lamp ($20 to $30), his Los Angeles Angels baseball rally monkey ($25 to $50) or his daughter Kelly’s personally autographed picture of actor David Hasselhoff (priceless?).
Which raises the question: Who buys this stuff, anyway?
“Believe it or not, a lot of people buy these things as investments. It diversifies their stock portfolio,” Julien’s Auctions President and CEO Darren Julien says of big-ticket items like the car, the Zakk Wylde autographed guitar and the expensive art and jewelry that Osbourne and his wife, Sharon, are parting with to raise money for the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Foundation.
“It’s something they can put in the office and talk about and people will recognize it when they walk in,” Julien said. “But when you go to sell it down the road, if you hold onto it long enough, or that person becomes even more famous, it increases in value.”
Julien organized a similar auction last year when Cher decided to clean house. A percentage of the profits from the sale, which included her Bob Mackie-designed gowns, benefited her Cher Charitable Foundation. Another Julien auction fetched a half-million dollars for guitars that had belonged to Bono and The Edge of U2. It benefited the charity Music Rising.
As for the more pedestrian tchotchkes being sold this weekend, like Ozzy’s toy slot machine or Kelly Osbourne’s Hello Kitty telephone, they are likely to be snapped up by fans of Osbourne’s music or reality show.
“It’s something akin, on a lower level, to the idea of a saint’s relics, to the objects that were touched by glory in some way,” says pop culture historian Leo Braudy of the University of Southern California.
Collecting star memorabilia is nothing new. When Napoleon III became emperor of France in the 1800s, he was said to have sat on a throne that once contained the bones of 9th century French hero Charlemagne — just so he could park himself next to greatness.