First Major Christie’s Punk Auction set for NYC

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) – Never mind the auction block – here’s the Sex Pistols.

Memorabilia from some of punk rock’s biggest acts and seminal moments – including a scrawled flier for one of the Clash’s first shows and publicity photos signed by the Sex Pistols – is headed for a Nov. 24 Christie’s auction.

The event, announced Tuesday, includes more than 120 records, photos and promotional pieces for such punk, garage rock and new wave legends as the Velvet Underground, Patti Smith, the Ramones, David Bowie, Blondie, the Cure and the Smiths.

The auction is Christie’s first to focus on punk mementos, signaling the collectible status of a brash, anti-authoritarian rock movement that largely thumbed its nose at posterity.

“We understand that tastes change, tastes mature,” said Christie’s pop-culture chief Simeon Lipman. “Ten years ago, punk memorabilia probably wouldn’t be something we’d be auctioning here. But now, people of a certain age have a certain ability to splurge on this material.”

Should they care to, highlights include a rare poster for a 1976 Ramones concert in London widely credited with helping inspire such British punk titans as the Clash and the Sex Pistols and a flier for a show later that year featuring the latter two bands and the Buzzcocks.

Other prime finds: a copy of the Sex Pistols’ first press release and a 1966 promotional packet in which an up-and-comer called David Jones promulgated his new last name: Bowie.

The various punk items are expected to fetch between $300 and $6,000 apiece.

The items generally weren’t designed to last for decades, making the few that have survived all the more tantalizing, Lipman said.

Even when the global financial meltdown is sapping a once-raging art market, “with pop-culture items, there’s sort of a nostalgia that drives it. It’s not necessarily a need to invest – it’s ‘that’s cool,'” he said.

The auction also features artist-designed toys and several big-ticket classic-rock collectibles, such as the portable organ John Lennon played in the Beatles’ indelible 1965 appearance at Shea Stadium. Drawing a then startling 55,000 fans, it ushered in the era of stadium-size rock concerts.

The instrument was broken during the show and quickly traded in at an Atlanta music shop, where the owner realized its significance and held onto it, Lipman said. The now-functioning organ is expected to fetch $150,000 to $200,000.