Auction House Drops Elvis Embalming Tools, SCI Questions Authenticity

July 26, 2010
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imageA West Loop auction house has canceled the sale of tools purportedly used to embalm Elvis Presley, after a Memphis funeral home disputed a retired embalmer’s ownership of the items.

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers had two lots of Elvis’ funereal memorabilia slated for auction Aug. 12, including a toe tag once attached to the King’s corpse, embalming needles and an eyeliner pencil allegedly used to prepare the body for the funeral.

The embalmer, who told the auction house he wanted to remain anonymous, said he kept the items after embalming Presley the night of Aug. 17, 1977. Service Corporation International, the corporate parent of Memphis Funeral Home, had questioned the authenticity of the items and said the embalmer had no right to take them from the business.

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“Rather than argue with anyone, it’s better to just withdraw the item,” Hindman said Friday, noting there was a “huge” amount of interest in the two lots, which were expected to sell for $4,000 to $8,000 each.

The items will be returned to Service Corporation International, which has been in contact with the Presley estate about what’s next for the sundry rubber gloves, funeral invoices and other equipment, spokeswoman Jennifer Brandino said Friday.

“We feel the sale of these items is entirely inappropriate,” Brandino said in a statement. “Their removal and subsequent submission for auction are inconsistent with our policies and our commitment to all families we serve to treat the loved ones in our care ? be they celebrities or not ? with privacy, dignity and respect.”

The Presley estate declined comment Friday, said Kevin Kern, spokesman for Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.

Hindman once auctioned a lock of Presley’s hair for $18,000, and a syringe used on Abraham Lincoln as he lay dying once sold for around $10,000, Hindman said.

“People collect a lot of things,” she said.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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