Teodoro “Teodorin” Nguema Obiang Mangue was born with power: since the late 1970s, his father had run the small central African country of Equatorial Guinea as a despot overseeing a murderous regime buoyed and financed by unending flows of crude oil. As a result, Teodorin enjoyed flaunting his wealth however he could. Some of his wealth Mangue spent building the world’s largest Michael Jackson memorabilia collection. Rolling Stone brings an excerpt from Casey Michel’s book, 'American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World’s Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History' which describes how, among other themes, federal agents used Mangue's MJ fetish to track down millions in ill-gotten gains. The book is out November.

A cassette containing what’s believed to be a previously unreleased John Lennon and Yoko Ono song, 'Radio Peace', as well as an interview has been sold for $58,300 at an auction in Copenhagen, Denmark. NPR looks back at the nice story of four Danish teenagers who were late for a press conference, but Lennon nevertheless spent half an hour with boys talking about war, local action, and singing 'Give Peace a Chance' for them.

Sounds like teen scissor
May 10, 2021

Kurt Cobain's hair is being auctioned off

Six strands of Kurt Cobain's hair are being auctioned as part of Iconic Auctions' 'The Amazing Music Auction', Loudwire reports. This one-of-a-kind artifact is "accompanied by an impeccable lineage of provenance including photos of Kurt posing with the woman who cut this hair, scissors in hand, and a fantastic shot of the hair actually being cut! The lucky friend who trimmed the Nirvana frontman's iconic blond locks was an early confidant, Tessa Osbourne, who cut his hair in 1989 — well prior to his 'Nevermind' breakthrough — while on the 'Bleach' tour", the press statement reads. The bidding started at $2,500.

A pair of prototype Nikes worn by Kanye West during his performances of 'Hey Mama' and 'Stronger' at the Grammy Awards in 2008 has been sold for $1.8 million in a private sale, al Jazeera reports. The sale marks the highest publicly recorded price for a sneaker sale and the first pair of sneakers to top $1 million. The buyer was sneaker investing platform RARES, the leader in fractional ownership, allowing users to invest in sneakers by buying and trading shares in them.

Phoebe Bridgers’ guitar that she smashed against an amplifier on Saturday Night Live in February, was sold for a shocking $101,500 in a GLAAD auction, Loudwire reports. Bridgers, who identifies as bisexual, was nominated for outstanding breakthrough music artist for Thursday’s GLAAD Music Awards. The winner was the upstart rapper Chika. Bids for the guitar had remained in the low five figures in the days leading up to the auction’s close, but the price went up in a bidding frenzy Sunday, the last day of the auction. Jason Isbell has said the guitar was worth around $85, before it got smashed, which means the price went up 1,200-fold after Bridgers had smashed it.

Golden boys
January 24, 2021

The Hu on new Mongolian coins

In other countries, it takes decades for musicians to get their images on coins and banknotes, but the Bank of Mongolia believes in The Hu so much that they plan to feature them on a new commemorative coin as soon as this February. Mongolian folk-metal quartet has seen a rise in popularity in the last few years, Loudwire reports.

Pawn Stars shares a lovely story about a lady named Dani who walks in a Las Vegas pawn-shop with a flamboyant western suit that she believes ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons once owned. She wants $25,000 for it. She's in for a surprise.

The first drum kit the late Neil Peart ever played with Rush has been sold at Bonhams auction for exactly $500,312, Exclaim reports. Peart originally purchased the Slingerland double bass drum in Toronto in August 1974, mere weeks after joining Rush. He played the kit on his first three albums with the band as well as during various live performances. The set had been expected to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000.

Space commodity
December 09, 2020

David Bowie coin sent into space

The U.K.'s Royal Mint pressed a special coin of the late, great David Bowie and sent it to space to have it offered as a competition prize, BBC reports. Earlier, the Mint pressed and released the collectibles which celebrate different stages in Bowie’s career. The one-ounce silver proof coin made a 45 minutes trip by balloon to the edge of space to an altitude of 35,656m before safely returning to the earth. It’s to be offered as a competition prize on the Royal Mint’s Facebook page. Bowie is the third to feature in the Royal Mint’s 'Music Legends' collection following Queen and Elton John, both issued earlier in 2020.

A bass guitar and effects pedal used by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, signed guitars from Liam Gallagher, Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler, handwritten lyrics from Florence Welch, Robbie Williams, and Ellie Goulding, a mixing desk from Craig David, and a signed synth from Chemical Brothers are all on sale at an online auction with the aim to help live events industry workers. Stagehand auction also includes memorabilia from Sam Smith, Jess Glynn and FKA Twigs, with more constantly being added, NME reports. Also benefiting the Stagehand initiative will be Prints for Music, a sale of more than 100 intimate photographs of stars including Grace Jones, Neil Young and Fela Kuti. Today, a £10,000 box set by Porcupine Tree' Steven Wilson, limited to a single copy, was sold at an auction, with proceeds from the one-off item going to Music Venue Trust, the charity lobbying for the UK’s grassroots venues under threat amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Album 'Double Fantasy' that John Lennon signed for his killer Mark David Chapman prior to his murder, is going up for auction, with a starting price set at $400,000. The record’s cover features Lennon’s signature and the year 1980 written on Ono’s neck, as well as various police markings on the front and back sides of the jacket, since the album was submitted as evidence during Lennon’s murder investigation. The record is an iconic artifact from one of the most significant tragedies in rock and roll history, being a symbol of obsessive fandom. On the morning of December 8th, 1980, Chapman approached Lennon outside of his New York apartment and asked him to sign the newly released 'Double Fantasy'. After signing, Lennon and Ono trekked off for a day at the studio, but when they returned five hours later, Chapman shot Lennon dead.

Sell baby sell
November 21, 2020

Bob Dylan papers sell for $495K at auction

A long-lost trove of Bob Dylan papers - privately held by the late American blues artist and a longtime Dylan friend and confidante Tony Glover - has sold at auction for a total of $495,000. Majority of the key pieces went to a bidder whose identity was not made public, Boston.com reports. The collection included transcripts of Glover’s 1971 interviews with Dylan and letters the pair exchanged. The interviews reveal that Dylan had anti-Semitism on his mind when he changed his name from Robert Zimmerman, and that he wrote 'Lay Lady Lay' for Barbra Streisand.

Ian Curtis’ signature Vox Phantom guitar, which most famously appeared in Joy Division’s 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' video, was auctioned off on Tuesday for £162,562, Far Out magazine reports. The guitar also toured with the late Joy Division frontman during the band’s 1980 European tour and was used on the recording of 'Closer' track 'Heart and Soul'. Following Curtis' untimely death, the guitar passed on to bandmate Bernard Sumner, who eventually gave it to his Electronic colleague Johnny Marr. Fifteen years later, Marr later returned the guitar back to Sumner, who finally left it with Curtis’ daughter, Natalie, who now sold it.

Heavy is the history of the crown
September 16, 2020

Notorious B.I.G.'s plastic crown sells for $594,000

The plastic crown worn by the Notorious B.I.G. at his last photo shoot sold for $594,750 at Sotheby's auction, New York Post reports. The crown was originally purchased for $6 at a novelty store, and Brooklyn-based photographer Barron Claiborne made pictures of Biggie wearing the crown for the cover of Rap Pages magazine in 1997, just three days before rapper's death. Biggie's publisher Sean 'Puffy' Combs didn't like it, “he said it would make Biggie look like Burger King”. The auction also included love letters written by Tupac Shakur at 16 - a total of 22 handwritten letters sold for $75,600, BBC reports.

An auction featuring items from the collection of long-time Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman broke records for the most expensive bass guitar, amplifier, and - a toilet seat, Rolling Stone reports. The record-breaking bass is Wyman’s 1969 Fender Mustang bass with a competition orange finish, which Wyman used on Rolling Stones recordings between 1969 and 1970. It sold for $384,000. Wyman’s 1962 Vox AC30 Normal model amplifier sold for $106,250. The star of the auction was a plush yellow toilet seat cover embossed with the Rolling Stones’ tongue logo which sold for $1,142, another world record, this one for most expensive toilet seat cover. The auction featured over 1,000 lots from Wyman’s archive, including instruments, gear, stage-worn costumes, awards, personal items and ephemera from his time with the Stones and as a solo artist.

Ed Sheeran's rare early demo CD recorded by the pop star when he was 13 has been sold for £50,000 at an auction, Sky News reports. Sheeran self-released the promo CD 'Spinning Man' in 2005, with only 21 CD copies of the recording are known to exist, and the majority, apart from the one sold, belongs to Sheeran. He said he didn't "want anyone else to get hold of a copy! Most of the songs were about a girl called Claire. She was my first love when I was 13".

Sotheby will host its first-ever hip-hop auction featuring two prized items from The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, Reuters reports. The September auction features 120 lots and showcases iconic artifacts, contemporary and fine art, one-of-a-kind experiences, vernacular photography, vintage and modern fashion, historic and modern jewelry and luxury goods, and rare flyers and posters. The two headlining items are the crown worn and signed by Biggie Smalls from his epochal 1997 'King of New York' photo from his last-ever photoshoot and an archive of 22 handwritten love letters that Shakur penned to his high school sweetheart.

A letter to your emcee
June 29, 2020

U.S. Post Office presents hip-hop stamps

The United States Postal Service is releasing a series of Forever Stamps on July 1, recognizing the timeless impact hip-hop has made on a global scale. Photographs by Cade Martin will be the focal point of these special release stamps, depicting emceeing, breakdancing, deejaying and graffiti art. Each stamp features the words “Forever”, “USA", “Hip Hop”.

What good did you do last night
June 21, 2020

Kurt Cobain's MTV Unplugged guitar sells for $6 million

The retro acoustic-electric 1959 Martin D-18E guitar played by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in a rare acoustic concert has sold for a record $6 million, CNN reports. Cobain played the guitar during a legendary MTV Unplugged performance in 1993, just five months before he died. At $6.01m after fees, the guitar is the most expensive ever sold at auction. It was bought by Rode Microphones founder Peter Freedman who said "I didn't even buy it for me. I paid for it but I'm going to use it to highlight the plight of artists worldwide by touring it around and then I'm going to sell it and use the dough for that as well, later".

Unplugged in New York, cash-flowed in LA
May 12, 2020

Kurt Cobain's MTV Unplugged guitar up for $1m at auction

The 1959 Martin D-18E guitar used by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain during the band’s famous MTV Unplugged in New York concert is for sale at an auction, with a starting estimate of $1m, CNN reports. The guitar featured in the grunge group’s performance in November 1993, five months before Cobain’s death at the age of 27. His guitar comes with the original hard-shell case, with three baggage claim ticket stubs still attached to the handle, along with an Alaska Airlines sticker affixed to the case. The storage compartment contains Cobain’s half-used pack of guitar strings, picks and a suede “stash bag”.