"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)


























Burnin' Love drives prices at Elvis auction

"Rockin' " Robin Rosaaen, a veteran collector of Elvis Presley memorabilia, knows how serious her competition can be. That's why she changed her hair color from light brown to almost black for Monday's auction of Elvis artifacts in Alameda -- so that none of her regular competitors would recognize her.

"People often follow my bid," said Rosaaen, a San Jose resident who claims at least 35,000 photos of Presley that she licenses for publication through her firm, All The King's Things. "Sometimes it can get vicious, the bidding wars."

On Monday, the action at Auctions By The Bay in Alameda was swift, with a live audience of nearly 50 and people monitoring the bidding via the Internet and by telephone from as far away as Britain and the Netherlands. They were bidding on more than 200 pieces of memorabilia -- autographed records to personal notes -- put on the block by the son of Presley's former secretary.

As auctioneer Scott Bradley called out the going rate in rapid-fire fashion, audience members silently raised white paddles while various employees called out bids received from elsewhere. When the last gavel fell after about 90 minutes, the bidding had brought in a total of $48,400.

"It was a very solid sale," said Allen Michaan, owner of Auctions By The Bay. When the bidding was done, Rosaaen had spent $3,700, $1,800 of it on a package of four glossy photos showing Presley singing at a piano, with band members and backup singers. "They are beautiful, and they've never been published before," shesaid. Jim Forsher, the Cal State East Bay broadcasting professor who inherited the material when his mother died in 2000, had mixed feelings.

Some of the prices were much higher than Forsher expected, but others were significantly lower. "There's no rhyme or reason to it," said Forsher after a 1956 fan magazine with a record of Presley speaking ("Elvis Confides in You'') brought only $160.

"That's a one of a kind," he said, shaking his head. Forsher's mother, Trude Forsher, was a 36-year-old refugee from Nazi- occupied Austria who in 1956 went from being a stay-at-home mother of two boys to working for Presley and his enigmatic and notorious manager, Col. Tom Parker. The job was exciting and demanding, and after six years her husband left her because he was convinced she was having an affair with either Parker or Presley, Jim Forsher said. Parker then fired Trude Forsher, although she stayed friendly with him until he died.

For Jim Forsher, many of the items put up for auction were laden with the lore given them by his mother in her tales about her time with The King. A longtime resident of Westwood, she died in 2000 after a career as a television producer and a secretary to a rabbi. "This wasn't just a collection of my mom's -- this was her life," said Forsher.

The biggest ticket items were a "Jailhouse Rock" movie poster and a phone book containing personal numbers of such movie and recording stars as Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, Bing Crosby and Henry Fonda. Each item went for $2,750. Those prices were way out of range for Ashley Sanchez, 15, an ardent Presley fan who spent $130 for a button with a picture of Presley and $140 for an early Presley publicity photo.

"I just like him," said Sanchez, a San Jose resident who came to the auction with her mother, Holly. Heather Mozart of Los Altos is one of the serious collectors Rosaaen repeatedly competes against.

"There's usually a handful of us that run each other up," said Mozart, who has a room in her house dedicated to Presley memorabilia. On Monday, Mozart paid $8,700 for a dozen items, including the "Jailhouse Rock" poster, which she outbid Rosaaen to obtain. Mozart said the event was unusual because the origin of the merchandise was indisputable.

"The great thing about this auction is that it was an opportunity to buy directly from the source," said Mozart, whose real estate developer husband is also a Presley collector. "There's so many things, sadly, that are being faked."

(News, Source: SF Gate, 7 June 2005)


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