Kiss Auction was Serious Bidness


The 2002 KISS Auction

The buzz moved through the eBay community like a tidal wave. KISS fans would be able to have their very own pieces of KISStory from a live/telephone/internet auction to be held by eBay’s own Butterfields on June 24th and 25th in Hollywood, California. This unprecendented auction was to feature more than 800 lots of legendary KISS memorabilia, including costumes, instruments, tour gear, and one-of-a-kind items from the world’s most outrageous rock ‘n roll band.

Kiss fans throughout the country had a chance to view the auction items at special previews held in New Jersey, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles prior to the sale. Michael Schwartz of Butterfields says in the auction catalog, “We are pleased to offer at auction artifacts, which include costumes, guitars, drum sets, stage designs, contracts, lyrics, sketches. Posters and many more items that have been preserved by Gene and Paul, and which give us a chance to share a piece of KISS history beyond our most vivid memories.” Wow, I couldn’t wait.

Here’s what I bought!

my Kiss case

I might just sell it – so if you want it – make me an offer?

AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS from Butterfields

  • $189,500 paid for a set of four original KISS costumes on life-size mannequins from the 1996-97 Alive Worldwide Reunion tour (platform shoes included!) [lot # 1199, auction estimate $60,000/80,000]
  • $145,500 paid for the complete set of four original KISS costumes on life-size mannequins from the 1998-99 Psycho Circus tour. Currently on a museum tour, these costumes have been included within New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Rock Style exhibition [lot # 1441A, auction estimate $100,000/145,000]
  • $32,200 paid for the complete original Gene Simmons KISS costume worn on the Psycho Circus tour in 1999 consisting of a black leotard, silver spike upper body armor, studded codpiece and seven inch silver and black leather “dragon” platform boots [lot #1004, auction estimate $8,000/12,000]
  • $21,850 paid for an original Gene Simmons custom design Spector electric bass finished in a silver and black pyramid design used originally in the Love Gun/Alive II tours [lot 1126, auction estimate $5,000/7,000]
  • $17,250 paid for a Gene Simmons bass used on various tours during the 1980s which features Simmons’ face (tongue extension greatly exaggerated) in full makeup and the image of a naked woman on the headstock [lot # 1130, auction estimate $5,000/7,000]
  • $16,100 paid for the prototype Gene Simmons axe-form electric bass guitar with Gene’s signature and handwritten design revisions [lot 1128, auction estimate $5,000/7,000]
  • $13,800 paid for an original set of three oil on canvas album cover paintings depicting comic book style caricatures of the KISS band members by Victor Stabin [lot 1025, auction estimate $5,000/7,500]
  • $86,250 paid for a set of four original KISS costumes on life-size mannequins from the 1977-78 Love Gun/KISS ALIVE II tour depicting Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss in full KISS makeup and complete costumes [lot # 1741, auction estimate $75,000/125,000]
  • $40,250 paid for an original Gene Simmons KISS axe-form guitar used on the Creatures of The Night Tour, 1983. Case included [lot #1564, auction estimate $5,000/7,000]
  • $34,500 paid for an original Paul Stanley “star” guitar from the Unmasked/European/Australian Tour era, 1980; comes with original black hardshell case [lot 1610, auction estimate $5,000/7,000]
  • $25,875 paid for an original KISS painting of the Love Gun album cover by K.W. Kelly. Also included is a black wood heavy-duty display stand [lot # 1727, auction estimate $10,000/15,000]
  • $20,700 paid for an original Gene Simmons KISS costume on life-size mannequin from the 1975-76 ALIVE! tour. Platform boots included. [lot 1812, auction estimate $20,000/30,000]
  • $16,100 paid for an original Paul Stanley KISS costume on life-size mannequin from the 1979 Dynasty Tour [lot 1685, auction estimate $12,000/15,000]
  • $11,500 paid for an original Gene Simmons personally-owned KISS painting of the Destroyer album by artist Ken Kelly [lot 1789, auction estimate $10,000/15,000.

While I was thinking about the upcoming auction in excitement, I thought to myself – where do they keep all this stuff? Gene Simmons must have some massive garage! Then while perusing the items one by one I realized that he never throws anything away either. (Kind of like some of the eBayers we know). If Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons kept all this stuff – including ad proof and color keys – what must have the thrown away? Was it Gene Simmons wife who couldn’t get her car in the garage one day who said, “Gene, you just have to get rid of this crap. Buckets of blood and tons of paper all over the garage – why don’t you have a garage sale. Better yet, sell it all on ebay.” I guess he took her advice.

Once at the auction, I gazed at the displays. The very costumes (in lifesize mannequins worn by Demon, Starchild, Catman and Spaceman, and thought to myself how great they would look in the entry of my house. Ya know, greeting people as they came in. Yeah, right, I knew I not only didn’t have the kind of money these babies would sell for, but I had a strong doubt that my husband would also find these guys appropriate décor items. I know he would have loved “the Axe.”

My biggest concern, after attending many live auctions in the past, was how would they handle internet bidding. Would the servers crash, would the website lock up? How would the millions of KISS fans get the opportunity to bid on these items? Well, it seems that the fans did not sign up to bid in droves. There were only about 300 registered online bidders. After speaking to some KISS fans, I found out that they didn’t register because they thought the lots would be way too expensive.

Fans logged on to the website to watch the bidding, and true to form, the Auction Channel website crashed for about 2 hours. When the site finally came up again, only registered bidders were allowed online to view the action. So next time, when Butterfields has their Fall Rock Memorabilia auction – featuring items from the Beatles, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane (I want the white rabbit) – Register! Registering doesn’t mean you have to bid, but it surely will get you carte blanche to watch the action online.

The crowd at the live auction were varied, the bidders were dressed in everything from KISS t-shirts and jeans to sharp European business suits. Cell phones abounded – checking and rechecking which items they would bid on. Once the bidding began – the money flowed like wine. No item seemed too small, too insignificant to sell for hundreds of dollars. You could tell the big shots from the Hard Rock Café, (who are rumored to have spent over $300, 000 at the auction) they subtly would raise their paddles and boost that sale prices higher and higher.

It was all quite civilized really. The auctioneer would announce the lot number, and behind him on a large screen, a hazy slide image would appear. Note – always have the auction catalog in front of you at an auction – there’s no time at an auction as large as this, for the auctioneer or the online server to drone on with all the miniscule features of the item up for bid.

TIP: Go to the previews if you can, if not, read every square inch of description in the catalog. Several items went for way less than they were worth – because the bidders didn’t read the descriptions – one being a original typewritten submittal letter from Gene Simmons to a music publishing company, with a hand written rejection note written on the bottom margin. The item should have gone as high as $10,000 and it went for $3,750. That was a great piece of KISStory – but someone wasn’t reading the catalog.

The lively bank of telephones for incoming bid was manned by Butterfields personnel, taking bids from all over the world. Interestingly, many bidders prefer to bid over the phone for high dollar items. The computer bank was smaller but very busy with at least 25% of the $1.6 million dollars in lots being sold to online bidders.

As the auctioneer played to the live crowd, he or she had an LCD style screen next to them that would alert them to incoming internet bids. The phone bank would yell out their bidders offers – and the live crowd would raise their paddle quietly.  When an item was won by a real fan, everyone in the crowd could see how pleased they were. We all know how much fun bidding is, and to get items like these you’ve got to feel great when you win.

The entire thing was quite subdued as viewed from the outside – but the excitement was so intense, that bidders had to leave the room for mental health breaks. Hours would pass and you felt like you hadn’t been there fifteen minutes. It was an amazing and very tiring experience.

I hope more of your join me online for the next auction. After talking to some online bidders, they felt the same excitement as if they had been there in person. The rapid fire action gets a 10 for entertainment, and besides, it’s your chance to get a piece of rock history.


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