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Got some old band T-shirts at home? You might be quids in … | Music | The Guardian

Got some old band T-shirts at home? You might be quids in … | Music | The Guardian

Got some old band T-shirts at home? You might be quids in … | Music | The Guardian
March 11
10:49 2018

They may be tatty, beer-stained and full of holes, but band T-shirts from gigs enjoyed decades ago could be a nice little earner.

A Led Zeppelin T-shirt from their 1979 Knebworth gig, issued in lieu of that rarest of commodities, a backstage pass, is thought to be the most expensive ever sold. An anonymous Australian stumped up $10,000 for it in 2011, a tidy return given that the seller picked it up for $123.

A growing memorabilia market fuelled by nostalgia and aided by a new wave of young musicians paying tribute to their influences means band T-shirts command sky-high prices. Vintage T-shirt website Defunkd is listing a limited edition Run DMC shirt celebrating the rap group’s partnership with Adidas for $13,000.

Defunkd founder James Applegarth says nostalgia is a key factor, with music fans seeking a tangible link to memories that are growing hazier. “If people wore the T-shirt back in the day, they want to get it back,” he says. “Celebrities are getting into the mix, like Justin Bieber wearing Nirvana shirts. Then there’s just straight-up collectors. They won’t even wear it, they’ll just stash it away.”

One rung below the more eye-catching sales, less rare items trade for good money too. That should give veteran gig-goers hope that they might have something worth a few bob stashed in their attic.

Many music fans never imagined the gear they wore to show loyalty to favourite acts would one day be worth money, according to Howard Cohen, owner of The Beatles Store in London.

“Nobody really kept them at the time, there just wasn’t the memorabilia market that there is now,” he said. “I had a lot of the old Sex Pistols T-shirts. I had about six of them and I’ve seen them go for £500 each.”

On Etsy, the online marketplace, you can find obscure items commanding hefty price tags, such as a 1993 T-shirt dedicated to English psychedelic distortionists Spacemen 3, available to surviving members of their cult following for £599.

For better known acts the prices rise, particularly when there is a decent story to go with the garment. The Beatles’ North American release Yesterday and Today attracted controversy due to the album cover, which features the group in butchers’ outfits, covered in pieces of meat and the body parts of decapitated baby dolls.

The artwork was reportedly described by Paul McCartney as the band’s comment on the Vietnam war. But the album cover drew complaints in the US and was swiftly recalled. Etsy had two original T-shirts, at £2,238 and £1,679, on its website last night. It also had a T-shirt produced for a planned 1980 tour by Wings, which unravelled when, upon his arrival in Japan, Paul McCartney was discovered to be carrying eight ounces of marijuana. A short spell in prison followed. The gig dates did not. The T-shirt was up for sale at £2,621 despite, in the seller’s admirably honest description, some “discolouration under the armpits”.

Defunkd, which only sells shirts older than 15 years, offers an appraisal service for anyone who thinks they’ve got a rarity on their hands. In its own words: “What it’s listed for is not usually what it’s worth, so call off your plans for early retirement.”

Source: Got some old band T-shirts at home? You might be quids in … | Music | The Guardian

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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