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Thursday, February 12, 1998 Published at 07:56 GMT

World: Americas

Lyrics auction hits high note
image: [ Lyrics to Elton's song sold for almost £280,000 ]
Lyrics to Elton's song sold for almost £280,000

The handwritten lyrics to Elton John's Candle in the Wind 97 - written in tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales - have fetched nearly £280,000 at auction.

The four sheets of paper were bought by US businessman Bob Wilson after fierce bidding at the sale in a Los Angeles restaurant.

The $442,500 paid out by Mr Wilson will be donated to the Children's Hospital Los Angeles on behalf of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

Candle in the Wind was originally written by Elton and his long-time collaborator and lyricist Bernie Taupin as a homage to Marilyn Monroe, who died in 1962.

[ image: The lyrics that Bernie Taupin wrote in just 90 minutes]
The lyrics that Bernie Taupin wrote in just 90 minutes
Elton agreed to rework the song for Diana's funeral in September and Mr Taupin hurriedly set to work on a new set of lyrics.

It took him just 90 minutes to come up with the words to Candle in the Wind 97, which begins with the memorable line "Goodbye England's rose."

The song went on to become the biggest single of all time, selling more than 35 million copies to date. In Britain alone, sales have topped five million.

The auction package, which consisted of three sheets of hand-written lyrics complete with crossings out and revisions, and a final typed version which was faxed to Elton, were sold through Christie's auction house.

Bids shot up

Among the guests at the auction were Hollywood start Steve Martin, who was not bidding, and Mr Taupin who lives in California.

[ image:  ]
Around 250 guests paid £65 a head to watch the sale at Mr Taupin's LA restaurant.

The stakes rocketed almost from the word go, as Mr Wilson duelled with an anonymous telephone bidder. His final bid, which converts to about £278,000, went unmatched.

"It's beyond our wildest dreams," said Mr Taupin, who had signed the lyric sheets along with Elton.

Christie's spokeswoman, Beth Shepherd, said: "We have a very proud owner of the lyrics. Bernie Taupin did come down to congratulate the new owner and they did exchange a hug."

[ image: The Candle in the Wind 97 single]
The Candle in the Wind 97 single
She added that Mr Wilson, who runs a non-profit making group for disadvantaged children, had yet to decide what to do with the lyrics.

It was the highest price ever paid for pop lyric manuscripts. The previous record was for work by the late John Lennon, which went for more than £100,000.

The song Candle in the Wind was one of the most popular requests made to radio stations in the days following Diana's death and the updated version served as a focal point for a world in mourning.

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12 Feb 98†|†UK
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Internet Links

BBC News - Tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales

Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund

Children's Hospital of Los Angeles

Christie's Auction House

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