Elvis' tooth, lock of hair up for grabs on eBay

Thursday, July 10, 2003

A piece of the King's smile is on the auction block, along with a lock of his hair and one of his gold records.

The tooth, purportedly pulled from Elvis Presley's mouth at a dentist's office, has been on display at a hair salon in Plantation, near Fort Lauderdale, for about 10 years, along with the other items. Now they're on eBay, an Internet auction Web site.

Bidding on the items started Sunday at $100,000. Within a few days, bids shot up to $2 million. The auction was reset Tuesday night because those bids weren't believed to be legitimate, said Anthony DeFontes, curator and spokesman for the collection.

All bidders now must be verified through eBay or DeFontes before their bid can post to the site. As of Wednesday at 10:30 p.m., no one had bid on the items. The auction ends July 18.

The most bizarre bid so far, DeFontes said, was an anonymous European company that was interested in extracting DNA from the tooth.

"They were talking about the possibility of cloning," he said Wednesday. "The owner of the tooth is not interested in that. There's only one Elvis."

Yellow Strawberry Salon owner Flo Briggs and her husband, Jesse, bought the Elvis items through auction.

The Briggs started their celebrity collection with a lock of John Lennon's hair, DeFontes said. They've also displayed locks of hair from Marilyn Monroe and George Washington, a suit that belonged to Jack Ruby, who fatally shot John Kennedy's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, and a favorite barber chair of Chicago mobster Al Capone.

"It just started off with locks of hair," DeFontes said. "The reason (they) did it was to draw people into the salon."

But the curiosities have been removed from the salon, in part due to increasing costs of insurance and security.

After the Elvis items are sold, the other items will likely also be auctioned on eBay, DeFontes said.

EBay does not authenticate any items sold on its site, but DeFontes said that the tooth and hair come with letters of authentication. The tooth, pulled after it broke, belonged to one of Elvis' former girlfriends, Linda Thompson. It was then acquired by Jimmy Velvet, a musician and collector of Elvis memorabilia who had a museum in Branson, Mo., and auctioned off most of his collection in 1994, DeFontes said.

The lock of Elvis' hair, acquired from late-night talk show host Joe Franklin, was saved from his haircut upon joining the military, DeFontes said, and the gold record is his hit single "Love Me Tender."

The King's hair has previously captured big bucks. In November, a baseball-sized wad of Elvis' jet black locks sold for $115,120 to an anonymous bidder on MastroNet Inc., an Oak Brook, Ill.-based Internet auction house.

A spokesman for the singer's estate noted that Elvis Week starts next month, causing memorabilia to come out of the woodwork. The 26th anniversary of Elvis' death is on Aug. 16.

"I'm not surprised," said David Beckwith, spokesman for Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc., which owns Graceland. "But the estate has been very careful not to authenticate or not authentic anything that's out there. It's just not what we do."


On the Net

  • eBay auction site: www.ebay.com

  • Official Web site of Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.: www.elvis.com

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