Jacko's Thriller jacket sold for £1m

Pic of Michael Jackson Thriller jacketThe iconic red leather jacket worn by Michael Jackson in his Thriller video has sold for £1.1m.

But what other rock memorabilia has fetched phenomenal sums at auction? And do they represent good investments?
Most collectors don't buy memorabilia for quick profit – though in time values may rise and a complete collection has a prestige all of its own.

Those who make the most initial money are the fortunate sellers who may be unaware of the value of ticket stubs, autographs linked to great pop icons.

It is the rarity of autographs and memorabilia that makes them highly sought after and therefore valuable.

Fab four

Take for instance Pam Lapworth who put Beatles and Rolling Stones autographs that she had collected during her teenage years living in Worcester up for sale.

A pink card signed by John Lennon that he had sent Pam back in the 1960s in response to a birthday card she had sent him sold for £550.

A second lot featuring an autograph book with the signatures of the whole line up of the Rolling Stones – who Pam bumped into outside her Worcester typing school in 1963 after they had played a gig nearby – brought in a further £300.

A grand total of £850 – not bad for bits of paper that had been sitting in a carrier bag for over 40 years! The fact that it was the autographs of the original Stones, including the late Brian Jones, will have added to the rarity of her collection.

Unless they have a hidden talent, dead people can't give autographs – therefore dead rock star signatures tend to hold their value. That is not to say that living pop star signatures aren't highly sought after however a flood to the market of Madonna autographs, however unlikely, would reduce demand and see a fall in prices.

Fads and fashion

And just because an artist is collectable at one time, they may not always be so. Michael Jackson's currency went down in the run up to his court case but after his death Jacko-related memorabilia has increased in value dramatically.

Of course autographs are on things but signatures on specfic documents are something else. One lucky (anonymous businessman) sold the original contract signed by the Beatles with their manager Brian Epstein at auction back in 2008 for over £250,000.

But that is the estimated going-price when the Fab Four's contract with manager Brian Epstein goes up for auction next month.

Most Beatle and specifically Lennon-related memorabilia is usually worth a valuation - a cheap necklace worn by John Lennon from 1967-68, given to a friend, was sold by the recipient in 2004 for £115,000. He certainly got by with a little help from his friend!

In 2008, the hand-painted bass drum skin pictured on the front cover of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sold for £541,000 at auction in London.

Golden oldies

According to Christies Beatles items are the hottest properties when it comes to collecting pop memorabilia. But there are a number of popular artists – Elvis, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Pink Floyd – whose memorabilia attract large bids at auction.

But it is not just old rock duffers your parents or grandparents used to listen to that will make you money. There's also a growing market for contemporary pop acts, particularly Madonna, Oasis, Blur, Nirvana, The Manic Street Preachers, U2, and The Spice Girls.

Top tips

1 Artefacts should have a traceable history, so whatever you're buying, always make sure the provenance is right; find out when and how the item was obtained

2 While a complete set or collection of one particular artist can be worth more than individual artefacts, it will depend on the quality and integrity of your collection

3 Always buy for passion first - that way you're never going to lose

4 Buying at auction will incur transaction costs: premiums can add anything from 10-20%

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