Most Valuable Autographs and Signatures Ever Sold

Acts of Congress signed by George Washington

This started as a top ten list, but we came across some additional entries that deserved to be on the list.

12) John F. Kennedy’s Newspaper signed on the morning of his assassination: $39,000
The copy of the November 22nd 1963 edition of the Dallas Morning News was sold in 2009 by Heritage Auctions. It was bought by California collector and owner of Profiles in History, Joe Maddalena.

11) Jesse James signed photograph: $51,240
This piece was sold in 2011 at a Leslie Hindman Auctioneers sale in Chicago. It was the only known signed photograph of Jesse Woodson James. The albumen print portrait, showing a bust of James as a young man with his hair slicked back and dressed in a suit and tie, is the most iconic image of the outlaw. James’ signature is exceedingly rare, with only one other signed item selling at auction.

10) David Bowie handwritten signed lyrics: $63,000
In 2016, the handwritten and signed lyrics to Bowie’s 1973 song “The Jean Genie” sold for $63,000.

9) Jimmy Page guitar – a 1963 Gibson ED-1275 : $73,000
Given that Page had no aversion to signing guitars and there is an abundance of guitars lacking any authentication, this rare Gibson model appeared with a provenance beyond doubt. Without the autograph, it’s estimated that the guitar would be worth $20,000 to $40,000. The fact that Page owned and played the guitar only made it even more valuable. This is the unforgettable guitar that made the multi-part “Stairway to Heaven” a certifiable epic, the Led Zeppelin guitarist’s double neck Gibson – 12 strings on top, six on the bottom – and it has spawned plenty of imitators.

8) Albert Einstein’s “signed tongue” photograph: $75,000
In a famous 1951 photograph, Einstein stuck out his tongue to surprise the photographer and it’s become a favorite image as it reveals a bit of the scientist’s humanity. In 2009, one of the photos, which bears Einstein’s signature, was sold at an auction for $74,324. About eight years later, the same photo was bought by another collector at $125,000 for a matte-finish print with Einstein’s autograph in German. Under the photo, a message wrote: “This gesture you will like because it is aimed at all of humanity. A civilian can afford to do what no diplomat would dare.”

7) F. Scott Fitzgerald Book: $191,000
Autographs by literary icon F. Scott Fitzgerald are fairly uncommon in general, but the signature that earned $191,000 at auction in 2015 had a pedigree beyond its rarity. It was in a first edition of Fitzgerald’s famous novel “The Great Gatsby” made out to screenwriter Harold Goldman, whom Fitzgerald dubbed “the original Gatsby.”

6) Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe baseball: $191,200
In 2006, a baseball signed by both Marilyn and Joe sold at auction for $191,200. It’s the only known item signed by both stars that has ever sold. When it was signed, the occasion was a 1961 Yankees’ training session in Florida that was attended by the highly acclaimed couple

5) Jimi Hendrix Contract: $200,000
Hendrix’s contract sold in 2009 for $200,000. Just a few years before his death, Hendrix signed the contract stating he would only receive $1 and 1% of recording royalties.

4) Babe Ruth baseball: $388,375
This baseball that Ruth (The Sultan of Swat) signed when it was brand new, sold for $388,375 at an auction in 2012, making it one of the most expensive baseballs ever sold. It was a pristine condition ball, never used, and immaculately clean and white.

3) LP signed by John Lennon for Mark Champman: $525,000
Chapman’s signed record sold in 2003. On December 8, 1980, Beatles star John Lennon signed an autograph on a copy of his recently released ‘Double Fantasy’ album. What made this autograph different from the rest, however, is that the carrier of the album he had just signed was Mark Chapman, the man who was set to become his murderer just hours later.

2) Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: $3,700,000
Lincoln originally signed 48 copies. Of those, only 26 surviving copies are known to exist today. One sold in 1991 for $750,000. Then in 2012, a copy was sold for $2 million. However, the most expensive copy yet sold in 2010 for $3.7 million.

1) George Washington’s Acts of Congress: $9,800,000
His signature on his personal copy of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the First Congress is the highest valued autograph ever sold. It was sold at auction in 2012. Washington’s copy of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the First Congress, included his signature of ownership and handwritten annotations. The bidding for this item lasted only for five minutes, and ended with the non-profit organization Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union taking the precious item.


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