NEW YORK – James Brown mementoes ranging from his signature capes to a medical bracelet fetched thousands of dollars Thursday at an auction, which the soul icon's children protested.
Fans and collectors packed a Christie's salesroom as more than 300 lots of Brown's belongings were sold, bringing in a total of $857,688, the auction house said. Bidding rocketed past estimates for many of the items, which included some of the Godfather of Soul's furniture, musical instruments and a poem Muhammad Ali wrote for him.
"Late Show with David Letterman" band leader Paul Shaffer bid $32,500 to win the medical bracelet, which went for more than 100 times its presale estimate, Christie's said. The bracelet said Brown, singer of hits such as "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)," was a diabetic and was allergic to penicillin.
Brown died of heart failure on Christmas Day, 2006, at age 73. His estate has been mired in turmoil and contention.
Court-appointed trustees announced in January that the singer's possessions would be auctioned, in part to pay taxes his estate owed. His former business managers tried unsuccessfully to block Thursday's sale, and Brown's children lambasted it.
"We were given a list of things and asked to go through and check off things that we didn't think should go, and we were just ignored," one of Brown's daughters, Deanna Brown Thomas, said Thursday on the Rev. Al Sharpton's radio show. "At end of the day, everything went."
On the auction block went the denim jumpsuit Brown wore for the 1974 concert preceding the "Rumble in the Jungle" boxing bout between Ali and George Foreman. The jumpsuit, embellished with studs spelling out "GFOS," for "Godfather of Soul," sold for $25,000, Christie's said.
Ali's typewritten poem -- "King James Brown by Muhammad Ali, The World's Greatest Poet, King of all Poets, On Behalf of the People of Western New York" -- fetched the same price.
Brown was known for donning and doffing elaborate capes during his shows, and some of them were among the auction's highlights. An intricately beaded, black satin cape went for $47,500; a blue satin one embroidered with "Thy Name Is Godfather of Soul" fetched $35,000.
The buyers' names weren't released. All the prices included the auction house's commission, known as the buyer's premium.