Elvis Presley auction at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

September 28, 2009 10:10:11 AM PDT
The King's" personal belongings from the collection of Gary Pepper, friend and fan club presidentThere's still a fascination with Elvis Presley, 32 years after his death.

Throughout his career, Elvis set records for concert attendance, television ratings and recordings sales. He is one of the best-selling solo artists in the history of popular music, with sales estimated at one billion worldwide. The "King of Rock n Roll" still attracts fans and his albums are still best-sellers. Now Leslie Hindman Auctioneers of Chicago lesliehindman.com has a once in a lifetime opportunity for Elvis Presley collectors and fans.

Over the years many collectors have asked, "Whatever happened to the Gary Pepper collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia?" Early in his career, Presley befriended Gary Pepper, a young man with cerebral palsy, who ultimately became a close friend and the president of one of the King's first fan clubs, allowing him to amass a significant collection of personal effects gifted to him from Presley himself.

When Pepper moved to California, he left the majority of his collection to his friend and nurse, who was hired by Elvis to look after Gary. Hopeful that collectors and fans can enjoy the memorabilia so treasured by Gary Pepper, she has recently decided to sell the collection at auction.

Untouched for over three decades, this special collection will be offered for sale at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on Sunday, October 18 with a public exhibition Thursday, October 15 through Saturday, October 17. A portion of the proceeds from the auction will be donated to United Cerebral Palsy of the Mid-South.

Highlights from the auction include clothing worn by Elvis Presley, a large lock of Presley's hair, a telegram sent to Gary while Elvis was in the Army, Christmas cards to Gary from Priscilla and Elvis, a significant collection of Elvis LPs and 45s, two near mint Sun records, as well as numerous 45s from Presley's own juke box, autographed record sleeves, an incredible selection of souvenirs, movie stills and Graceland ephemera, and other memorabilia from celebrities such as signed photographs of the Jackson Five and Marilyn Monroe.

Additionally, the auction will include hundreds of candid photographs of Elvis, including photos documenting some of the most intimate moments in Presley's life and career such as his return home from the Army, his wedding to Priscilla, Lisa Marie's first days home from the hospital, and other photos taken at Graceland. Many of these images were taken by Gary Pepper with a Polaroid camera that Elvis gave him early in their friendship. A number of these original photographs were featured in The Tankcaster, the newsletter for Elvis' fan club known as "The Tankers," which are included in the auction as well as the Polaroid camera itself.

While Elvis' life has been well documented, the intimate photographs and items in this sale give collectors and historians a new glimpse into Elvis' life and character through his enduring friendship with Gary from the early days of his career until his death. Thirty two years after his death, this collection presents a remarkable post-script to Elvis' life and legacy. For more information on the Elvis sale, call 312.280.1212 or visit www.lesliehindman.com.

About Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers' thirty years of experience and expertise have earned the auction house an international reputation for achieving record prices. The firm specializes in post-war and contemporary art; Old Master; 19th and 20th century American and European paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture; furniture and decorative arts; fine jewelry and timepieces; vintage couture and accessories; and fine books and manuscripts.

GARY PEPPER ELVIS COLLECTION
October 15-17: Exhibition

October 18: Auction

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

1338 West Lake Street, Chicago

312.280-1212

www.lesliehindman.com

ELVIS AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS

Lot No. 66: Elvis Presley's Hair: Given to Gary Pepper as the president of the Tankers Fan Club to mail to Elvis Presley fans. In 1958, the nation's newspapers announced that Elvis Presley, having been newly recruited into the U.S. Army, had received two haircuts trimming his famous locks and sideburns down to a greatly modified crew cut. Individual strands of Elvis Presley's shaved locks have since been treasured by his fans who wish to own a piece of the king himself. According to John Reznikoff, a leading expert in celebrity hair authentication, "the hair appears to match the hair in my collection [from same U.S. Army haircut] in coarseness and color . . . This is more than likely a genuine lock of Elvis' hair short of a DNA test (often inconclusive) proving otherwise." Estimate: $8,000-12,000

Lot No. 127: An Original Pastel Wedding Portrait of Elvis and Priscilla Presley: One of two known, with confirmation from Graceland that the other hung in the foyer of the estate for many years, artist unknown, after a photograph of the couple that was included in a limited release LP of "Clambake." *The estimate for this item is not released in the catalogue. All inquiries should be directed to Mary Williams at 312-334-4236 or marywilliams@lesliehindman.com

Lot No. 109: Elvis Presley Red Ultrasuede Shirt Worn featured in a giant size pin-up picture inserted in a 1963 full color picture folio issued by RCA. Labeled: Segal Collar. Together with five copies of the picture folio. Estimate: $2,000-4,000

Lot No. 31: "EP" Monogrammed Cream Collared Cotton Shirt Together with a magazine featuring Elvis Presley wearing the shirt and original photographs of Gary Pepper with the shirt. Estimate: $2,000-4,000

Lot No. 73: Signed Photograph and Negative of Elvis Presley in Uniform Hugging Gary Pepper Black and white, 8 x 10 inches, depicting Elvis Presley hugging Gary Pepper upon his return from the Army, inscribed on the front, "To Gary, Thanks Again, Elvis Presley." Together with two original negatives and two 3 x 5 inch black and white duplicates of the photograph from the original negatives.

Gary Pepper and the Tankers greeted Elvis Presley at the Memphis Union Train Station upon his return from the Army on March 7, 1960, along with hundreds of fans. After shaking a few hands, Elvis asked Col. Parker's aide, Bitsy Mott, to bring him over to Gary, who was holding the "Welcome Home, Elvis, The Tankers" sign over his head. Gary apologized that there was not a larger turn out, but that it was a school day. According to a local reporter, "Elvis bit his lip . . . seemed to by trying to repulse tears, and said 'I'll see you later pal.'" Estimate: $1,000-2,000

Lot No. 13: Original 5-inch Reel-to-Reel Sound Recording of Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show, Dated on the back of the box: January 5, 1957. Elvis made his last of three appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show on January 6, 1957. This appearance was made notorious in Elvis' career by the fact that the CBS censors would not allow the singer's whole body to be shown, having caused a frenzy in the studio by his hip gyrating performance of "Hound Dog." Tape speed: 7 1/2. Estimate: $1,000-2,000

Lot No. 129: Original Photographs and Negatives from Elvis and Priscilla's Wedding Reception

17 original photographs and three negatives from the reception that took place on May 29, 1967. A number of the photographs, including all three negatives, feature Gary Pepper with Elvis and Priscilla at the reception in Memphis. Following a private reception in Las Vegas, Nevada, Elvis and Priscilla Presley held a wedding reception on May 29, 1967, for their Memphis family and friends. Together with one color photograph of Elvis and Priscilla on their honeymoon and a photo portrait of Priscilla. Estimate:$800-1,200

Lot No. 47: Signed and Inscribed Photograph of Marilyn Monroe 1955, black and white, 8 x 10 inches, inscribed in red pen, "The Gary, Warmest Regards, Marilyn Monroe," and dated in the hand of Nell Pepper, "March 1, 1955." When Marilyn Monroe signed her photographs in her own hand, she frequently used a red pen, as opposed to the more commonly seen secretarial signatures in blue or black pen. Estimate:$1,000-2,000

Lot No. 147: Two White Roses and Other Items from Elvis Presley's Funeral Two white roses from a spray Priscilla Presley placed on top of the Elvis Presley's casket, an original photograph of Elvis Presley's hearse leaving the gates of Graceland, fan tributes and a collection of newspapers reporting Elvis Presley's death. Estimate: $200-400

Lot No. 131: Gifted Elvis Presley Tonka Toy Golf Cart Specially made and given to Gary Pepper from Elvis Presley based on Elvis Presley's own golf cart. Together with seven photographs of Elvis Presley's family members and Gary Pepper with the original pink cart. Estimate: $600-800

Lot No. 23: Elvis Presley Enterprises Rock 'n' Roll Vinyl Billfold Distributed in 1956 with a snap closure and separate snap compartments inside, featuring color images of Elvis Presley. Estimate: $100-200

Lot No. 122: Elvis Presley's Personal Collection of 45rpm Singles. Originally from Elvis Presley's jukebox and given to Gary Pepper. Featuring 7" 45rpm singles by many musicians who influenced the singer's career, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Anita Wood, Brigitte Bardot, Aretha Franklin, Ricky Nelson, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Booker T, Fats Domino, Solomon Burke, James Brown, Nancy Sinatra and others. Approximately 70 albums. Estimate :$800-1,200

Lot No. 112: Elvis Presley 1962 Inscribed Picture Sleeve, "Good Luck Charm" / "Anything That's Part of You," with 45 rpm single (RCA 47-7992). Inscribed in black ink, "To Gary - Thanks Again, Elvis Presley." Condition: Very Good. Estimate:$800-1,200

Lot No. 144: 1976 Memphis Concert LP Album Where Elvis Greets Gary Live, "Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis" STEREO CPLI-0606. The March 20, 1974, concert took place at the Memphis Mid-South Coliseum. Estimate: $100-200

"FORWARD" FROM AUCTION CATALOGUE

COURTESY OF LESLIE HINDMAN AUCTIONEERS www.lesliehindman.com

The name "Elvis Presley" is indisputably synonymous with rock 'n' roll. His story, both inspirational and tragic, continues to captivate us more than 30 years after his death.

A cultural icon unlike any other, Presley inspired generations of loyal fans and young musicians who played an important role in keeping his memory alive well into the new millennium. Among them, Gary Pepper, former president of The Tankers Fan Club, stood out as the ultimate "super fan." He devoted his life to Elvis Presley and, in the process, rose above his challenging physical disabilities to create and manage a network of over 5,000 Elvis enthusiasts worldwide. His extensive collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia underscores the most human aspects of this cultural icon, as a benefactor, a father, a son, a husband and a loyal friend.

From a young age, Gary Pepper showed an amazing ability to bring people together in a spirit of shared interest, outreach and charity. Despite being born with severe cerebral palsy and confined to a wheelchair from childhood, Gary had a passion for life generated by an ambition to improve the lives of others. In a 1954 interview for a Memphis area newspaper, Gary told a reporter, "My desire to help others has kept me from despondency over my misfortune." Together with his mother, Nell Pepper, he ran a clipping service by sending a form letter, along with clippings, to people who were mentioned in the Memphis newspapers. He requested a small donation and, if the person was well-known, he also requested an autograph or photograph. As a result, Gary amassed a significant collection of autographs from leading musicians, celebrities and politicians. It was through this clipping service that Gary first met Elvis Presley and soon became a lifelong friend.

On July 10, 1954, Memphis and the nation were first introduced to Elvis Presley on the Dewey Phillips radio program, "Red Hot and Blue," with an innovative rendition of Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's All Right, Mamma." Among the enthralled listeners were Gary and Mrs. Pepper, who fast became fans. Gary began clipping all mentions of Elvis from the newspapers and sending them to Gladys Presley. Moved by Gary's story, Gladys invited the Pepper family to a Christmas Eve party at Graceland for which only close friends and relatives of the Presley's would be attendance. Gary's father, Sterling Pepper, had recently been laid off and, learning of the family's financial difficulties, Elvis Presley requested that his father, Vernon Presley, place Sterling on the Graceland payroll as a relief guard posted at the entrance to the estate.

Despite their outward differences, both Elvis Presley and Gary Pepper shared great similarities, including their love of family, their ability to connect and bring people together, their passionate loyalty and their love of music. Whenever Elvis would return to Memphis, Gary regularly accompanied him and his closest friends to late night parties at local hotspots and movie theaters, including the Mid-South Fairgrounds, the Rainbow Arena Roller Rink, the Memphian Theater and the Crosstown Theater. In addition to providing full time employment to Sterling Pepper, Elvis frequently surprised Gary with expensive gifts ranging from a new wheelchair, a remote-control television, a Polaroid camera, a new car outfitted with power windows so Gary could operate them and, quite often, some of the clothes Elvis had worn in movies and photo shoots.

In the 1960s, during Elvis' tour in the U.S. Army, Gary played an important role in inaugurating one of the first and farthest-reaching Elvis Presley Fan Clubs, The Tankers. The Fan Club was named in honor of Elvis' service with the Second Armored Division stationed in Germany. As president, Gary oversaw the production of the Tankcaster newsletter and relayed updates from Colonel Thomas Parker, Elvis' manager. The Tankers Fan Club was highly successful and gained international attention. At the height of its membership, Gary's network of fans exceeded 5,000 members worldwide.

Gary Pepper maintained a close relationship with Elvis Presley and his family throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He grieved with Elvis and Vernon at Gladys Presley's funeral, welcomed Elvis home from Germany at the Memphis train station, sat at the head table at Elvis and Priscilla Presley's wedding reception, posed for photographs with the young couple at Graceland days after the birth of their daughter, Lisa Marie, and was seated in the front row of many Elvis concerts. Thus when the Pepper family was faced with their greatest hardship, the death of their patriarch, Sterling Pepper, Elvis did whatever he could to assist them.

Sterling Pepper died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack while on guard duty at the Graceland gates. Upon the death of her husband, Nell Pepper sank into a deep depression, which left both her and Gary completely helpless. Having heard that the situation had become grim, Elvis and Priscilla visited the Pepper house, where they found Gary crawling on the floor of his living room and Mrs. Pepper lying unresponsive in bed. Elvis immediately took full responsibility for their care and hired Carl Nichols, a trusted family friend, to see that their needs were met. Without full time care, however, Gary's condition continued to worsen, leading Nichols to appoint Nancy Pease as a live-in nurse.

Nancy's vibrancy and mutual love for Elvis Presley revived Gary's ambitions. With her assistance, Gary resumed his clipping service and began writing a regular article entitled, "Memories of Elvis," for the Graceland Fan Club newsletter and resumed making regular contributions to Elvis Monthly magazine in Great Britain. In addition to providing a paycheck to Nancy, Elvis gave Gary his father's paycheck and appointed him "Fan Club Coordinator and Foreign Correspondent."

By the summer of 1976, Gary and Nancy had saved enough money to purchase a home next door to Vernon Presley and his second wife, Dee Presley, with a yard that abutted the back pasture of Graceland. Meanwhile, Elvis Presley was beginning to show signs of severe health problems. On August 16, 1977, Gary Pepper received a telephone call from his friend and neighbor, Albert Connell, that Elvis had been found dead in his Graceland home. Not long after Presley's funeral, at which Gary was placed in the family suite, the Estate of Elvis Presley informed Gary and Nancy that their paychecks had stopped. "I'm sure Elvis would've looked after Gary forever," said his nurse in an interview with The Globe, "but he never suspected that Gary would out-live him."

It soon became clear that Gary, his mother, and Nancy could no longer afford to live in Memphis. Nancy began to make plans to move back to her home in Iowa and, learning that their only alternative would be the Shelby County Nursing Home, insisted that Gary and Mrs. Pepper accompany her. Gary's extensive collection of Elvis memorabilia went with him. When the harsh Midwest winter approached, Gary and his mother moved to California to stay with a cousin for fear that the unfamiliar cold may worsen Gary's condition. Apart from a few treasured items, Gary left his collection with Nancy in Iowa. On March 29, 1980, Gary Pepper died of pneumonia at the age of 48 in a nursing home in Long Beach, California.

Many people were touched by Gary Pepper's unceasing devotion to Elvis Presley and his unselfish concern for the wellbeing of others. His character was made evident through his efforts to provide other young sufferers of cerebral palsy the opportunity to not only generate their own ambitions but to also achieve them.

Determined to keep the memory of Elvis Presley's great generosity alive, prior to relocating to California, Gary Pepper began working to establish the "Gary Pepper Cerebral Palsy Fund in Honor of Elvis Presley," with a dream of building a foster farm for handicapped children on Elvis' Circle G Ranch in Mississippi. Gary raised every dollar for the fund from Elvis Presley's many fans worldwide who were eager to contribute donations and purchase photos, record albums and Elvis souvenirs from Gary's personal collection. Although he was able to raise more than $4,000, Gary's dream was never able to come to fruition. With the sale of Gary's collection, those who knew him best hope to continue his efforts to improve the lives of those afflicted with cerebral palsy. A portion of the proceeds from the auction will be donated to United Cerebral Palsy of the Mid-South.

Thirty two years after his death, this collection presents a remarkable postscript to Elvis Presley's life and legacy. Leslie Hindman auctioneers is proud to present these items for sale to the public in this once-in-a-lifetime auction of the Gary Pepper Collection of Elvis Memorabilia.


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