On Nov. 22, 1963, just hours before being assassinated in downtown Dallas, John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the US, signed a copy of the Dallas Morning News daily for a young hotel maid. Since the newspaper carries inherent proof of a place and a date, many believe this may potentially be the last autograph the late president ever made. In 2009, it was bought by California collector and owner of Profiles in History, Joe Maddalena, for $39,000 in a Heritage Auction.
Right after receiving the item, Maddalena went to insure it for a quarter-million dollars.
Jesse James, the notorious outlaw in the US during the 19th century, gained the admirations and supports of the majority due to his Robin Hood-style crimes during that time. In 1882, James was shot by an officer named Robert Ford, following the decree rolled out by the Governor of Missouri.
In 2011, an anonymous buyer bought an authentic signed photograph of James for $52,000 at the Leslie Hindman Auctioneers event.
The 8th on our list concerns the guitarist of the English rock band Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page. In 1963, Page signed a Gibson EDS-1275 guitar with his name and a message “Rock on!” on it.
Decades later, the item was sold at $55,000 to an anonymous buyer at an auction. To date, the guitar is said to still be playable and functional, adding even more bucks to its value.
Landing on our 7th spot is none other than the signature of the greatest scientist of the 20th century, Albert Einstein. In March 1951, Einstein’s 72nd birthday, photographer Arthur Sasse was able to capture the mischievous side of the German-born theoretical physicist with his tongue comically stuck out of his mouth. It was said that Albert Einstein liked the photo and ordered 9 copies to give to friends.
In 2009, one of the photos, which bears Einstein’s signature, was sold at an auction for $74,324. About eight years later, the same photo was bought by another collector at $125,000 for a matte-finish print with Einstein’s autograph in German. Under the photo, a message wrote: “This gesture you will like because it is aimed at all of humanity. A civilian can afford to do what no diplomat would dare.”
In 2006, a baseball carrying the signatures of one of the most famous celebrity couples, New York Yankees baseball star Joe DiMaggio and Hollywood superstar Marilyn Monroe, was sold for $191, 200 in an auction. The buyer, who referred to himself as “an East Coast collector who is a big fan of both DiMaggio and Monroe”, purchased the item as an addition to his already diverse collection.
The fifth-most expensive signature came from Jimi Hendrix, the American guitarist who grew up to become a rock legend in the 1960s. Just a few years before his death, Hendrix signed a contract stating he would only receive $1 and 1% of recording royalties.
In 2009, the contract was sold at a handsome price of $200k in an auction.
For baseball enthusiasts, nothing rings a name louder than Babe Ruth. In fact, among his many signed baseballs sold for such a high price, the biggest was marked in 2012, when a baseball signed by Babe Ruth’s with a message “I’ll knock a homer for Wednesday’s game” on it was sold for a staggering $388,375 in an auction.
On December 8, 1980, Beatles star John Lennon signed an autograph on a copy of his recently released ‘Double Fantasy’ album. What made this autograph different from the rest, however, is that the carrier of the album he had just signed is Mark Chapman, the man who was set to become his murderer just hours later.
In 2013, the item, which carries a dark moment in music history, was sold at $525,000 in an auction.
In 1864, the 16th US President Abraham Lincoln signed 48 copies of the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the US. To date, only 26 of the said copies are known to have survived. In 2010, one of these remaining copies was sold at an auction, valuing a whopping $3.7 Million, marking the most expensive autograph at that time.
The most expensive among all signatures ever sold belongs to none other than the first US President George Washington.
In 2012, Washington’s personal copy of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the First Congress, with his signature of ownership and handwritten annotations, was sold for an overwhelming $9.8 Million at an auction. The bidding, which lasted only for five minutes, ended with the non-profit organization Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union taking the precious item.
To date, it remains to be the most expensive autograph ever sold in history.
Surprised to know the names behind the most expensive signatures ever sold at auction? From sports icons to celebrities, musicians, scientists, and politicians, there comes a broad range of people whose signatures carry significant value in history.
Which among these signed items left you in awe and disbelief?
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