George Washinton Act of Congress $9.8million
The first place in this list of most expensive autographs belongs to George Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the First Congress. He signed the first page of this book which was put up for auction at Sotheby’s in 2012.
The collectible was immediately purchased by Ann Bookout, a board member of the Vernon Ladies Association which is a non-profit organization that manages Washington’s Virginia Estate. The association paid a whopping sum of $9.8 million for this rare piece of memorabilia. After purchase, they placed the book in its rightful location at the Washington Presidential Library in the White House.
Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation $3.7million
In 1864, a year before his death, President Abraham Lincoln signed 48 copies of the Emancipation Proclamation which ended slavery in the US. Twenty-six copies of this historic document survive today and they are displayed in universities and museums, with a few in private hands.
In 1991, a copy of this document sold for $750k. In 2012, another one was bought by billionaire David Rubenstein for $2 million. But the record goes to a copy once owned by Bobby Kennedy that was put up for sale in 2010. An anonymous collector shelled out an astonishing $3.7 million for it which created a new record for the most expensive autograph at that time.
John Lennons Murderer signed LP $525,000
December 8, 1980 is a black letter day in music history. On this day, Beatles star John Lennon met an untimely death at the hands of a murderer named Mark David Chapman. Earlier in the day, Chapman had got Lennon’s autograph on a copy of his recently released ‘Double Fantasy’ album. He returned a few hours later and fired five deadly shots at the music superstar sending him to his grave at the relatively young age of 40.
David Mark Chapman did not flee after carrying out his bloody act. He sat calmly reading JD Salinger’s iconic book ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and waited for the police. Lennon’s autographed album was worth $525k in 2003 and its value is much higher today.
Babe Ruth Signed Baseball $338,375
Babe Ruth was famed as the ‘Sultan of Swat’ during his record-breaking baseball career which stretched from 1914 to 1935. He signed many baseballs during his lifetime and one of them went for more than $250k in 2014. This is not surprising considering the fan following of the baseball superstar.
However, the Babe Ruth collectible that takes the cake is a brand new baseball ball signed by the legend that went up for sale in 2012. It fetched a handsome amount of $388,375 during an auction which makes it one of the most expensive baseballs ever sold in history.
Jimmy Hendrix Contract $200,000
Jimi Hendrix was the epitome of the free-lovin’, hedonistic, flower power lifestyle of the 1960s. His wild drinkin’ and druggin’ days however took its toll and the guitar god perished at the lamentably young age of 27 in 1970. Before his death, in 1965, he signed a contract in which he agreed to sell his rights for a paltry 1% royalty.
Paradoxically, this signed contract is today worth a small fortune. Hendrix’s music too continues to top the charts long after his death. For this reason, the contract fetched a handsome sum of $200k when it was auctioned in 2009. The guitar genius never got to see the riches earned by his incredible musical talent.
Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe Baseball $191,200
New York Yankees baseball star Joe DiMaggio and his wife, Hollywood bombshell Marilyn Monroe, were one of the most famous celebrity couples in US history. Therefore, when they both signed a baseball its value rocketed to astronomical heights. The occasion was a 1961 Yankees’ training session in Florida.
The famous autographed baseball is the only item signed together by the star couple. When it went up for sale in 2006, an anonymous collector was willing to shell out $191,200 to add it to his collection.
Jimmy Page’s Guitar $73,000
Autographs of rock stars command a premium among crazed fans. And rock stars don’t come any bigger than Jimmy Page who was the guitarist of the seminal classic rock band Led Zeppelin, famous for such hits as “Stairway to Heaven”. Page signed a 1963 Gibson EDS-1275 guitar and this item naturally created a flutter because it has been authenticated as a genuine autograph. What’s more this guitar is functional and playable which increases its value.
To be sure, there are many guitars believed to be signed by Jimmy Page but most of them have not been authenticated as it is easy to copy this rock star’s signature. These items fetch from $1,000 to $5,000 in auctions. The authenticated guitar autograph is naturally worth much more and an ardent fan shelled out $73k for it to fulfill his love for the rock god’s musical talent.
Jesse James Photo $52,000
Jesse James was a notorious outlaw in the US in the 19th century. He earned a reputation as a Robin Hood who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. His gang of bandits wreaked havoc from 1866 to 1876 executing a series of robberies around the country. The Governor of Missouri decreed that James should be apprehended or killed. Following his order, an officer named Robert Ford shot him dead. James. being an outlaw, seldom signed anything. Therefore, his autographed photograph is worth a small fortune today.
There is another Jesse James signature which is believed to be on a letter he wrote. However, the authenticity of this autograph is in doubt so it is of no value. James’s signed photograph has been proved to authentic and it went to his granddaughter Ethel Rose James. When it was auctioned, it rose steeply from its reserve price of $20k and was finally sold for $52k.
John F. Kennedy Newspaper $39,000
November 22, 1963 has gone down in history as one of the most ill-fated days because John F. Kennedy the 35th president of the US was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald on this day. Before his death, Kennedy signed a copy of the Dallas Morning News daily for a young woman. This last autograph fetches a good amount today.
Joseph Maddalena who starred in ‘Hollywood Treasure’ bought this newspaper copy with Kennedy’s last autograph for a bargain price of $39k. He admitted that he was willing to pay much more for this prized treasure. To keep it safe, he insured his valuable investment for half a million dollars.
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