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Christie's Rock Auction: Metallica, Elvis, Sex Pistols, Cursing

November 25, 2008 1:43 PM ET

The auctioneer at Christie's smirked when he announced Monday's lot 37, a shirt designed by Vivienne Westwood and Sex Pistols mastermind Malcom McLaren. "Fuck Your Mother!" he said, reading the shirt's inscription. "That's the first time I've ever said that up here." It wasn't the last — he repeated it three more times for good measure. The New York auction strayed from the usual Christie's fare, as items from Nirvan, Metallica, the Ramones and the Beatles were put up for bidding and netted a total of nearly $750,000. Of 350-plus available lots, a few of the more high-end items failed to meet their reserve price and remained unsold, including the original album art for the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill (bidding stalled at $19,000) and Kurt Cobain's childhood bass, which petered out at a measly $42,000. Check out a few of the day's more notable sales below.

• Cover artwork for Metallica's Master of Puppets: $35,000
• Ring worn by Elvis Presley during one of his final tours: $32,500
• Louis Armstrong trumpet: $27,500
• Original session tapes from Jimi Hendrix' Electric Ladyland sessions: $47,500
• Proof of smallpox vaccination certificate for Paul McCartney: $5,000
• Postcard written by Elvis: $7,250 (which comes out to around $426 per each word written in Elvis' hand)

Related Stories:
Rock's Rarest Artifacts: 15 of the Most Valuable Pieces of Memorabilia in Rock
Red Hot Chili Peppers Contribute to Charity Auction for Lit Drummer
Hip-HOp Jewelry Owned by Biggie, Diddy Going to Auction

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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