James Brown items up for auction

Christie's will sell instruments, lyrics, awards

NEW YORK -- Fans of James Brown will have a chance to own some of the legendary soul singer's funky stuff when Christie's puts hundreds of items up for sale on July 17.

The auction house said on Tuesday it will sell some of his instruments, hand-written lyrics, awards and grooming artifacts among 320 lots to be offered at "The James Brown Collection," estimated to take in about $1 million.

A leather belt with a red-and-silver rhinestone buckle reading "Sex Machine" and tooled "We Love You James, Blue Express" is seen fetching $2,000-$3,000.

The figures are just estimates. The personal effects of the late "Godfather of Soul" have commanded prices two, three and even 10 times expectations.

Among the highlights are Brown's Kennedy Center Honor from 2003 ($10,000 to $15,000) and his 1986 Grammy Award for "Living in America" ($15,000 to $20,000). His jumpsuits, many priced around $5,000, are grouped with other clothing in the sale catalog by color.

Brown's Yamaha baby grand piano and his Hammond B-3 electric organ with Leslie speakers are each expected to fetch $15,000-$20,000.

Fans with more modest budgets can consider some photos, hand-written notes and letters estimated at only a few hundred dollars. Other lots such as an engraved silver plate, or sets of cufflinks and studs, are similarly priced.

Brown collected presidential paraphernalia, and the sale will include photos and letters from Presidents Reagan and Bush, as well as a Republican Presidential Task Force Card priced at $200-$300.

The sale also includes rollers, picks, hair products and a dome hair dryer from the salon in Brown's South Carolina home. Furniture, sunglasses, hats, scarves, bow ties and shoes round out the collection.

Brown, whose hits included "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)," died at 73 on Christmas Day 2006 of congestive heart failure.

His estate has been the subject of much dispute and legal wrangling involving members of his large family, including several adult children, ex-girlfriends and ex-wives.

Court-appointed trustees for his estate, variously reported to be worth between $100 million and $200 million, filed a lawsuit in South Carolina earlier this year against Brown's business managers, former estate manager, a law firm and the investment bank Morgan Stanley.

The trustees allege a conspiracy to defraud the singer and accuse the bank of not preventing fraud by the managers.