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Luly Yang
Luly Yang
Kerry Washington
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An Avid James Brown Collector

Accomplished Godfather

with An avid James Brown fan!

How did you develop an interest in this particular collection?
Of course, loves James Brown, he had great style. We happened to be in New York to produce a few new features on designers and celebrities. During this time period the James Brown auction was being held at Christie's and we wanted to drop in to view the goods! We immediately fell in love with a variety of whimsical and historic items. Who would not want to have a piece of James Brown!
What approach did you take in starting this particular collection?
We first attended the viewing of the items from James Browns estate that were being auctioned off. The place was crowded with colorful people and the atmosphere was jovial and festive. People were trying on clothing, furs, hats and jewelry. They were sitting in the furniture, singing with the old music video's that were being displayed and some were even sharing old James Brown stories. It was a powerful place to be and it was a collectors haven! We tried on a few items and absorbed a lot of history from others. It was a great way to be introduced to a collection! Needless to say, after this experience, a few of us are now James Brown memorabilia collectors.
How did acquire these photographs of this James Brown Collection of goods?
The editors and ambassadors that decided to attend the James Brown auction thought that this would be a one-of-a-kind feature that had to be covered. Our photographer that covered the event loved the unusal, unconventional photo opportunities and even picked up a few items at the auction. The auction was held in July of 2008. Also, one of our editors won the winning bids for a few of the larger lots.
What were some of the items from the lots?
Furniture, a few coats, a trumpet, an antique phonograph and a music box to name a few.
What was one of the most interesting items that was up for auction?
The cape that was worn by James Brown in many of his on stage performances. It was a full length black satin cape with bright red lining. This was generally draped across his shoulders while he was dancing or strutting around the stage. It was great to see in person. There were several attendees trying on the clothing but it seemed as if this cape was one of the crowd favorites!
What about the most unique items?
I would say the polyester jumpsuits...there were tons of these form fitting costumes. He had to be in great shape to wear these... or crazy! And the hair rollers, Afro Sheen, and comb. The comb still had hair in was something!
How did the James Brown estate sale do as a whole?
It was a marvel to the eyes and there was a lot of diversity. There were 394 lots of goods and every item had a story behind it. I believe that they raised about $1,000,000-this is not an exact amount.
Did any particular item up for bid surprise you in what was paid out for the item?
Oh yes. There were two. A medical bracelet and one of the jumpsuits. The medical bracelet went for $32,500.00 and was purchased by musician and bandleader Paul Shaffer and the jumpsuit that had the initials 'GFOS' (Godfather of Soul) went for $25,000.00 There were items that went for more but these two went for far more than the estimated values. I could not believe it!
What did you like about James Brown the man?
I think that he was an original...a freak of nature. He had a raw talent that was superior to the talent of his time and he was truly a natural entertainer...whether it was dancing for the police or an audience of fans and admirers.
What is your favorite James Brown quote?
That is easy...'You only live once'.
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