NEW YORK, July 25 A grisly collection of
autopsy tools used to prepare Elvis Presley's body has been
removed from auction after doubts were raised about their
provenance and authenticity.
Chicago-based Leslie Hindman Auctioneers last week said
rubber gloves, forceps, lip brushes, a comb, eye liner, needle
injectors, and a toe tag, all of which were used on Presley
ahead of his funeral in 1977, would go on sale on Aug. 12.
The instruments were said to have been saved for years by
an anonymous, retired embalmer at the Memphis Funeral Home. The
auctioneer estimated a sale price of up to $14,000.
But Mary Williams, a spokeswoman for the auction house,
said the instruments had been withdrawn from auction after the
funeral operator laid claim to them.
"Due to questions of ownership, the retired embalmer and
his son have decided to turn over the property to the Memphis
Funeral Home and its parent company, Service Corporation
International (SCI.N), with the intention of donation,"
Williams said in a statement.
Memphis Funeral Home President E.C. Daves also told The
Commercial Appeal newspaper in Tennessee that there was no way
to tell whether the items being offered for sale were
He said the retired embalmer claims he took the items after
Presley was embalmed, but another employee told him the
equipment was sterilized and used again.
Daves said the funeral home had no plans to take any legal
action if the items were returned.
When announcing the sale last week, Williams admitted the
auction may be controversial as some people "are going to be
disappointed" by the sale of these items.
Elvis memorabilia, however, is always in strong demand with
a lock of his hair selling for $18,300 at an auction last
Presley died from heart problems after taking a cocktail of
prescription drugs on Aug. 16, 1977, at the age of 42 but he
continues to be one of the top earning dead celebrities,
bringing in $55 million in 2009 according to Forbes.com.
(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Dean Goodman)