Most Expensive Band Tee Ever: Vintage Grateful Dead T-shirt Sells for $17,640 at Auction
What's the most you would pay for a band T-shirt? We're most comfortable in the $20-$25 range, but we'd consider up to $50, depending on the band, the design and the exclusivity.
Evidently, though, some people are willing to go higher. A lot higher. Like ... $17,640 higher.
That's how much a vintage Grateful Dead shirt just sold for at Sotheby's auction. The shirt was created in 1967, making it one of the earliest Grateful Dead tees. And it was from the collection of Dan Healy, an audio engineer who worked frequently with The Dead and pioneered the band's Wall of Sound, aka one of the most rock-and-roll things ever.
(Here is where I disclose that I never really got into the Grateful Dead, but I once was on a bowling team that my friend named "Greatful Dead," for some reason. Anyway, carry on.)
The @Sothebys auction ‘From the Vault: Property from the Grateful Dead and Friends’ closes tomorrow! The collection includes decommissioned items from the Dead warehouse in Northern California featuring instruments, memorabilia, & more. Check it out here: https://t.co/ZAUCzpftEu pic.twitter.com/RIbUvDm8JB
— Grateful Dead (@GratefulDead) October 14, 2021
That's the shirt in the bottom left corner of that tweet. Here's the auction listing, via Sotheby's:
Designed by the Hells Angel, Merry Prankster, and graphic artist Allan “Gut” Terk, a key figure in California counterculture in the 1960s. Friends with Ken Kesey, he was the painter of the Pranksters’ “Further” bus in 1964 and designed the Acid Test Graduation posters. By 1967, through his work for the Dead, he was acclaimed in the Bay Area music scene for his T-shirt and poster art.
The shirt broke the previous record for most expensive band tee, taking the crown from this extremely rare 1979 Led Zeppelin concert tee that sold for $10,000 in 2010.
According to Defunkd, a vintage T-shirt site that specializes in band tees, Healy's collection of items up for auction included another Grateful Dead shirt that sold for $15,120. It becomes the second most expensive band tee ever, and the most expensive ringer T-shirt ever sold, if we're keeping score. (We are.)
What shirt will break the record? Will a vintage Weezer Roomba vacuum someday sell for $50,000? While we're on the topic, will someone please buy us this Van Halen 1979 world tour tee? (Thanks in advance.)
Only time will tell. For now, let's just appreciate the vintage greatness of our new record-holder.