The Auction at Graceland•January 8, 2019
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 1/8/2019

Graceland may be the kingdom of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, but the history of this great property predates its most famous resident. The land on which Graceland sits was established as a 500-acre farm during the Civil War by publisher Stephen C. Toof, who owned the oldest printing company in Memphis and the newspaper the Memphis Daily Appeal. Graceland Farm was named after Toof’s daughter Grace who inherited the grounds from her father in 1894. After her death, the property was passed to her niece Ruth Moore, a Memphis socialite, and her husband Dr. Thomas Moore. The couple built the over-10,000-square-foot Colonial Revival style mansion, designed by architects Furbringer and Ehrman, in 1939. Dr. Moore and his wife had a musically gifted daughter, Ruth Marie, so the house was designed to accommodate not only her accomplished skills as a pianist and harpist, but to entertain large groups of listeners for her private recitals. Appropriately, in March of 1957, the title of this great property was passed to yet another skillful musician, whose fame was on a meteoric rise, when Elvis Presley purchased the home, including the almost-14-acre grounds from Ruth Marie for $90,000. Elvis wasted no time in moving himself, his parents and his grandmother, Minnie Mae, into Graceland in April 1957. The family resided in the home for the rest of their lives with Elvis having enjoyed the magical place just over 20 years before his passing in August 1977. So many wonderful times were shared and memories made by the Presley family over the years in their own version of Camelot. Graceland has become synonymous with Elvis and was opened to the public in June of 1982. In 1991 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2006 was declared a National Historic Landmark. Graceland, with its Colonial Revival style exterior, is instantly recognized around the globe as the home of Elvis Presley.

Offered is the original sale contract for the sale of Graceland to Elvis that fateful day in March 17, 1957. It is arguably the most significant and historic Elvis Presley document as it represents the purchase of one of the most iconic and highly visited homes in the United States by a musical legend whose vast appeal knows no bounds as his star quality continues to shine more than forty years after his passing. The home receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, many of whom make the trek with an almost religious zeal. Graceland has and continues to welcome a wide range of celebrities and important individuals like President George W. Bush, previous Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Prince Albert II, Princes William and Harry, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and so many more. In addition to being one of America’s top tourist destinations, Graceland has also been featured in songs, pop culture references and films, including a recent Hallmark movie released this past Christmas 2018. While Elvis’ popularity has never waned, the continued attraction and appeal of his Graceland home is comparable in fame and distinction. 

This rare contractual document is signed by Elvis, Vernon and Gladys Presley in black ink on this two-sided, one-page standard folded agreement. This Virginia Grant Realty Co. document “Sale Contract Form Approved by Real Estate Board of Memphis” acknowledges receipt of the $1,000 earnest money for “The property known as Graceland, more particularly described as 3764 Highway 51 S and being approximately 13 acres, as per a survey prepared by Wiseman & Blandl, architects, which will specify a certain area of approximately 5 acres, out of the original 18 acres, which has been donated to the Graceland Christian Church, on North side of original 18 acres, together with all permanent improvements” as handwritten in red ink. The document further describes the purchase sum of $90,000 upon terms “purchasers to trade their property at 1034 Audubon Drive, at a price of $55,000. Balance of purchase price to be paid as follows: $10,000 cash at closing: Seller to carry first mortgage on 3764 Highway 51 S, payable over a 25 year period in monthly installments, to include interest of not over 6%. This offer is subject to approval of purchaser’s son, by Tues, 8 p.m., Mar 19, 1957.” The reverse has been counter signed in the same red ink by Virginia Grant as agent.

This historic document representing the Presley family’s most significant purchase comes with a letter, notarized on March 15, 2017, from Tom Morgan on Shelby County Sheriff’s Department letterhead that states, “The above mentioned ‘Graceland Sales Contract’ was written on March 17th of 1957 by Virginia Grant. Mrs. Grant was the Realty agent for the Presleys handling the purchase of Graceland for Elvis. The contract has been signed by Mrs. Ruth Brown Moore, owner of Graceland, Ms. Virgin [sic] Grant, Realty agent, Mr. & Mrs. Gladys Presley and by Elvis A. Presley. There was a thousand dollar deposit given to Ms. Grant on property located at 3764 Highway 51 {Graceland} by Elvis A. Presley. All three of the Presleys signatures on a contract together are very rare and it being on the National Historic Register makes it a priceless item. I swear this contract is original and I am the sole and rightful owner of this document and it has been in my possession until today.”

The document has been signed by the agent, Virginia Grant, and all three Presleys which, as Tom notes, is rare since Gladys did not often sign and at 22 years of age, Elvis no longer required his parents’ signature on legal documents. The importance of this document cannot be overstated for both the historic significance of the signatures and the momentous event of this symbolic property changing ownership into the Presley family. This extraordinary document measures 14 x 8 1/2 inches (35.56 x 21.59 cm) and is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated.

The document presents with significant creasing and wear from storage. Excellent condition.
March 17, 1957 Sale Contract for Elvis Presley to Purchase Graceland – Signed by Elvis, Vernon Presley and Gladys Presley
Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $25,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $18,750.00
Estimate: $50,000 - $100,000
Number Bids: 1
Auction closed on Tuesday, January 8, 2019.
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