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Sunday, October 10, 1999 Published at 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK


Elvis sale fetches millions

Impersonators, businessmen and fans gathered in Las Vegas

Elvis Presley's wristwatch fetched $32,500, his black satin pyjamas $25,000 and a signed credit card $11,000 at the first ever auction of the singer's memorabilia.

But perhaps the most personal purchase was made by a man who says he owes his life to the King of Rock 'n Roll.

[ image: Clothes were a popular item during the three-day auction]
Clothes were a popular item during the three-day auction
Anthony Ciaglia, 22, who makes his living impersonating Elvis, forked out $8,500 for a sleek 1960s black polyester shirt belonging to the King, at the auction.

Mr Ciaglia is certain the singer's records revived him from a month-long coma after an accident when he was a teenager.

Always on my mind

"If it wasn't for Elvis I might not be here today," said Mr Ciaglia, after attending the second day of a three-day auction at the MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas.

[ image: The King's white golf cart was also on sale]
The King's white golf cart was also on sale
"When I came to I had to learn to do everything all over again - eat, walk, talk, swallow, you name it. But in the back of my mind I keep hearing this guy singing," he said.

Hundreds of people - from business executives to fans - attended the three-day sale.

The auction had been expected to raise $4.5m, some of which will go towards a housing project for the homeless.

But organisers were optimistic they would surpass that figure, as the final day of bidding came to a close on Sunday.

School report

One of the most coveted items up for grabs was Elvis' mass-produced wristwatch, with a futuristic, triangle-shaped, black watchface.

After vigorous bidding, it was snapped up by watchmaker Swatch for $32,000. It will be kept in the company's archives.

One man, who said he represented Georges Marciano, founder of Guess Jeans, paid $47,500 for 33 movie posters.

Other, unknown, fans paid $10,000 for a guitar pick used by Presley and $35,000 for a red coat with black fur cape.

A school report card - with D's in maths and geography and an A in music - went for $8,000.

'Unbelievable prices'

The singer's old credit cards were also fought over, with a signed Texaco card going for $11,000, and three unsigned ones fetching a total of $13,000.

But not everyone was swept away on the wave of Presley fever. Los Angeles Elvis memorabilia dealer Joseph Keretta, who tried to bid on one of the unsigned credit cards, gave up when bidding went past the $3,000 mark.

"I buy Elvis memorabilia but this is getting ridiculous," Mr Keretta said. "Prices are unbelievable. The card was worth about $1,800 because it was unsigned. It could have been used by his bodyguard and never been seen by him."

A new place to dwell

On Friday, Presley's prized 1956 Lincoln Continental went for $250,000, while his first piano sold for $90,000 dollars, and his little black phone book for $9,500.

The event, dubbed the Graceland Garage Sale, featured 2,000 items from the Presley estate.

Some of the proceeds will be used to fund Presley Palace, a transitional housing development in Memphis, Tennessee, officials said.

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