The awning was put on the block at Sotheby’s by former CBGB manager, Drew Bushong, who began working at the club in 2000. In an interview with the auction house, Bushong explained that he’d been holding on to the awning for over a decade after dragging it out of the trash.
“It was my day off and I was drunk at Mars Bar, the beautiful, nasty dive bar that was nearby,” Bushong recalled. “I think it was about 2004. I walked over to CB’s to see if anyone was around and there was this box in the dumpsters outside. I had seen it before above [owner] Hilly [Krystal’s] desk for a year or so. I remember thinking, ‘Why is this in the trash?’ I woke up the next morning – shoes on, I was rather hung over – and the box with the awning in it was sitting in my bed. I learned later that it was in Hilly’s office because one of the interns was supposed to put stamps on it to send to the Cleveland Hall of Fame and it just never got there. I’ve had it under my bed ever since.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame eventually received the awning that hung above CBGB until the club closed in 2006. The museum had hoped to get the original awning, but the punk band Jodie Foster’s Army supposedly stole it after a gig in the Eighties, a story corroborated by several former employees per the Gothamist.
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In a separate Gothamist piece about the whereabouts of the CBGB awnings, former booker Brendan Rafferty explained that the second awning – the one that sold at auction – ended up on Krystal’s desk, and eventually in the trash, after being damaged and vandalized. One band, the Toilet Boys, painted their name across the awning, and soon after people began tearing pieces off the fringe.
For Bushong, the awning will forever be tied to his time at the club, beyond the fact that he smuggled it out of the trash: “I actually got stabbed underneath the awning – which is a sales point I hope,” he told Sotheby’s. At the time, Bushong was working the door when he got stabbed in the neck by a concertgoer he had to eject for starting a fight. “Instead of calling the cops I called Hilly, the owner of the club, and he said, ‘What are you doing calling me?! Call the cops!’ About a month after that I was the manager. It was a violent, exciting time. I wouldn’t want to relive it now, but in my twenties and thirties, it was pretty fun.”