Elton John will auction millions in art and antiques from Atlanta home

British singer Elton John at the 2016 International Aids Conference at the International Conference Centre in Durban, South Africa, 20 July 2016. File image.

British singer Elton John at the 2016 International Aids Conference at the International Conference Centre in Durban, South Africa, 20 July 2016. File image.

Published Jan 11, 2024


After selling their Atlanta home in 2023 for $7.2 million, pop star Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, are auctioning off its contents.

Eight separate sales at Christie's New York will feature around 900 lots estimated at more than $10 million total.

There will be an evening sale on Feb. 21 and a day sale that stretches from Feb. 22 to Feb. 23, plus six online auctions. The lots will include everything from a pair of the singer's 1970s-era silver platform boots (estimate: $5,000 to $10,000) to his 1990 Bentley two-door convertible ($25,000 to $35,000.)

"It's about wanting to make a presentation of the things he loved in his life," says Darius Himes, the international head of photographs at Christie's. "But it's also tied to selling his home."


A significant part of the sale is filled with show-stopping personal items from the singer's collection, including an 18-karat gold, diamond and orange sapphire Rolex Daytona with a leopard-print face and wristband, estimated at $40,000 to $60,000; John's Yamaha piano, which sat in his living room, estimated at $30,000 to $50,000; and various pieces emblematic of the singer's flamboyant style, including a pair of sunglasses from about 1975, estimated at $2,000 to $3,000, and a blue wool "Captain Fantastic" suit covered in rhinestones, $6,000 to $10,000.

There is also a significant amount of Versace clothing and interior decoration, so much that 70-odd lots will be the subject of a standalone Versace-themed online auction.

There's a vast red, black and gold Versace "Medusa Red" table service estimated between $4,000 and $6,000, and what Himes says is "basically an entire year of Versace shirts." (One lot, consisting of six silk Versace shirts from 1993, is estimated at $4,000 to $6,000.) Prices, Himes notes, don't include the Elton John factor.

"There's a pretty established philosophy around celebrity ephemera sales," he says. "It's all about setting a relatively conservative estimate, and then letting fans and buyers tell us what the market should be."


But for many true collectors, the highlight of the sale will be the roughly 360 photographs from John and Furnish's vast holdings. (This May, the V&A Museum in London has a dedicated exhibition with selections from their collection.)

John "owns upwards of 7,000 prints," Himes says, making the forthcoming sale "a tiny fraction of what he owns." Nevertheless, this is only the second time the singer has ever parted with any pieces of his collection, according to Himes, making it a rare opportunity for photography collectors and fans alike.

Himes says John's collection can be broken into four primary areas: what Himes says is "figurative fashion, which is iconic, kind of glamour photography" from the likes of Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and William Klein; then "the very bold, and direct, more sexual nude works," he continues, checking off pieces by Helmut Newton and Bruce Weber. "These works aren't so much fashion as they are erotic, and about celebrating the naked human body."

The third section is "quite humanist, and evocative of social documentary themes of the 20th century."

Works in that section include images by Lewis Hine, Robert Frank and Dorothea Lange. The final section comprises postwar contemporary art photography found in top-tier international galleries: Andreas Gursky, Cindy Sherman, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Unsurprisingly, many of the most expensive photographs fall into the fourth category.

A Gursky photograph from 2004, Dior Homme, carries an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000; two 1999 photos by Sugimoto, Elizabeth I and Richard I, each carry estimates of $50,000 to $70,000. One of Sherman's iconic film stills from 1979, Untitled (Film Still #39), has a $300,000-to-$500,000 estimate.

But there are several highly desirable fashion prints as well.

"There's an amazing Richard Avedon from 1955 that was shot for a Harper's Bazaar series in Paris," Himes says.

"This piece itself is overall unique, because it was the print that was then mounted on card stock, and has all the markings and the piece of paper with the caption that ran in Harper's." That image, Dovima With Elephants, is estimated at $100,000 to $150,000.

Peek Inside

Given that John's auction comes hot on the heels of the wildly successful series of sales of Freddie Mercury's estate at Sotheby's in London, comparisons between the two are inevitable.

But Himes cautions that despite the superficial corollaries-the two pop stars' tchotchkes, memorabilia and fine art certainly have some overlap-the two sales are very different.

"The biggest difference is that [Mercury] was an estate sale for an amazing artist who'd passed away," Himes says. "In a way it was the last way to celebrate a great person. The John auctions, in contrast, are about "helping him with a project of selling a home, and clearing out the contents of that home," Himes says.

Still, it's nearly inevitable that the millions of Elton John fans around the world will find a lot to like.

"The best way to frame this is as a snapshot of what Elton has lived with, and loved, for the last 30 years," Himes says.

"This is like opening the door and getting to peek inside his world."