Johnny Cash jumpsuit fetches $50,000 at auction

A stage hand at the Ryman Auditorium puts the final touchs on a large photo of the late country music legend Johnny Cash, before the Cash tribute concert in Nashville, Tennessee, late November 10, 2003. REUTERS/John Sommers II

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A jumpsuit worn by Johnny Cash set off a bidding war before selling for $50,000, soaring past original estimates, during an auction on Sunday of memorabilia owned by the Man in Black.

The blue denim jumpsuit was worn by Cash for a rehearsal at San Quentin prison and shown in the infamous Jim Marshall photograph that depicts him wagging his middle finger into the camera lens.

The final price surged past the sales estimate of $3,000 to $5,000 after bidders made offers over phone and from the gallery, said Julien’s Auctions.

“Johnny Cash is a true legend and his collectibility spans all continents,” said Darren Julien, President and CEO of Julien’s Auctions.

“Bidders from around the world participated in the auction, proving that the Man in Black’s legacy will forever live on.”

More than $700,000 was raised in total for the 321 lots offered.

Among other items for sale was a Martin acoustic guitar on which Cash wrote the first four lines of his early hit “I Walk the Line” and signed his name. It also went for $50,000, topping estimates of $20,000-$30,000.

Other memorabilia included handwritten lyrics to dozens of obscure or unrecorded songs. Among them was a confessional love song called “I Draw the Line” with the couplet “I have often fallen to the lure of smoldering (cq) eyes and I’ve given in to the wilder side of me.”

The auction follows a big Sotheby’s estate sale in 2004 designed to pay estate taxes after Cash and his wife, June Carter Cash, died in 2003. That sale raised almost $4 million, including a 20 percent buyer’s premium.

Writing by Elaine Lies; editing by Sanjeev Miglani