With the birth of social media, the connection between celebrities and their fans is stronger than ever before. We’ve never felt closer to our idols; now, we can follow their day-to-day lives in far more intimate ways than controlled interviews or behind-the-scenes bonuses. But Document Journal recently posed the question: can it go too far? When this digital connection isn’t quite enough, fans will often look to seek a ‘uniquely’ personal connection with their idols through ownership of one-of-a-kind items that once belonged to the stars.
In the case of celebrities and famous people who have sadly passed on, this leads to the strange world of posthumous auctions. Sometimes, it’s a nice memento for a fan who was inspired by that celebrity as they were growing up — an autograph or photo. But sometimes, it’s something a little more personal, like chewed gum or used underwear. Some of it is dignified, some of it is decidedly…less so. Join us as we take a look at a handful of items owned or used by late celebrities that are currently available for fans to purchase online*.
Heath Ledger’s gloves and jeans
Owned or used? Used (movie costume)
Price tag: $15,000 (£11,420.63)
It was a shock to the movie industry when up-and-coming actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his apartment in 2008. The talented actor had gained a huge number of fans following his performances in Brokeback Mountain and A Knight’s Tale, and arguably even more in his now-iconic posthumous performance in The Dark Knight.
It’s not surprising then that there is a market for his worn costumes. Currently, a pair of gloves and jeans that were worn by Ledger on the set of Brokeback Mountain are available to purchase at auction for $15,000. The jeans, a pair of Levi’s 501 XXs, are size 34” x 36”, though presumably their purchase won’t be with the intent to wear.
John Lennon’s hair
Owned or used? Owned
Price tag: £399.00 (per strand)
While owning pieces of an actor’s costume is certainly a pricey, but otherwise a fairly normal collector’s ambition, physical parts of a person might seem just a tad too far for some. Nevertheless, should a John Lennon superfan wish to, it is indeed possible to own a genuine half inch strand of John Lennon’s hair. The hair was cut before Lennon’s role in How I Won the War.
This is certainly a collector’s item to be careful with when dusting its display shelf…
Brue Lee’s used sparring mask
Owned or used? Owned and used
Price tag: $7,500 (£5,710.31)
This is one of those rare items that is indeed highly unique and definitely personal to the icon in question, but without being too invasive. A sparring mask is surely a brilliant way to remember a martial arts legend, and this particular one has a little story behind it. And who doesn’t love to tell a story when showing off their collectables?
According to the listing, this personal belonging of Lee’s was used as part of his fitness regime throughout the mid-1960s. Before he moved back to Hong Kong, Lee gifted the mask to Herb Jackson. Naturally, the mask is a little scuffed, but this no doubt adds to its value for any martial arts fanatic.
MAG 1C number plate from Paul Daniels
Owned or used? Owned and used
Price tag: £150,000
The late ‘Godfather of Magic’, Paul Daniels inspired a whole generation of would-be magicians to pick up and practice the art. Who better then to own the personalised number plate ‘MAG 1C’? In truth, the magician didn’t always have the enviable number plate. But the man he purchased the licence plate from was reportedly ‘tired’ of people asking if he was the famous magician!
Though the number plate has been cherished for a number of years by his wife, Debbie McGee, the tabloids have reported in early 2019 that the registration number is now up for sale. While it can be argued that the future new owner of ‘MAG 1C’ might not be a superfan (maybe they will instead be a Harry Potter fanatic), the plate is sure to always hold special memento status as a personal possession of the late Paul Daniels.
*As of 7th March 2019