Going once. Going twice. Sold for $260,000! Elvis Presley’s 1962 Lockheed 1329 JetStar crossed the block at the Mecum Kissimmee Collector Car auction in Florida yesterday on what would have been the King’s 88th birthday.
On hand for the high-profile sale was Elvis’ former wife Priscilla Presley, who stood alongside the Mecum auctioneers during what turned out to be decidedly lackluster bidding.
“Elvis loved planes and this was one of them. This is my first auction and I’m excited to be here. Today would be Elvis’ 88th birthday,” she told the packed auction.
Bidding started at $100,000, jumped to $150,000 but settled at $200,000. Only with plenty of coaxing did it get up to $240,000, where it stayed for a number of minutes. Finally, $260,000 came from a telephone bidder, the reserve came off and the hammer fell.
It didn’t help that the 61-year-old jet wasn’t on hand at Kissimmee for viewing. It’s currently parked in the desert, gathering dust at the Roswell International Air Center in Roswell, New Mexico, where it has sat outside for close to 40 years.
That $260,000 winning bid—it’s actually $286,000 including fees—will likely be something of a disappointment for the seller, businessman Jim Gagliardi, of Madera, California. Gagliardi, 82, bought the jet at a 2017 auction for $430,000, or $498,000 after commission and fees.
Gagliardi told the Roswell Daily Record newspaper he originally planned to ship the plane to his earth-moving equipment dealership in Madera. “I was going to have it as kind of an advertisement, have people go in it and look at it,” he told the paper.
But the original plan never materialized and the Lockheed remained at the Roswell Air Center. Gagliardi admitted that he’d never actually visited the plane in the six years he owned it.
Gagliardi first put the jet up for auction last August in an on-line sale of Elvis “lost” jewelry with Kruse GWS Auctions. Despite the minimum starting bid of $100,000, no buyer came forward.
Part of the challenge for the new, undisclosed buyer will be logistics. The Lockheed’s four engines and most of its cockpit instrumentation were removed years ago, so it’s not flying anywhere. To transport the plane will require plenty of disassembling.
But as the Mecum auctioneer told the crowd before the bidding began: “This is an incredible restoration opportunity to create an Elvis exhibit for the world to enjoy.”
As Robb Report reported last month, Elvis bought the red-and-silver-liveried JetStar in 1976, a year before his death, for $840,000 (around $4.4 million today). With room for nine passengers and three crew, the plane had a top speed of 565 mph and a range of about 2,500 miles.
Despite the sun-bleached exterior, the interior looks to be in excellent shape. In Elvis fashion, it features acres of red velvet upholstery, red shag carpet and gold-finished hardware.
As to whether that $260,000 selling price is a bargain, consider that just last November, Mecum sold Elvis’s 1971 Stutz Blackhawk sports coupe, which he eventually gifted to his physician, for $297,000.
Around $37,000 less for Elvis’s jet seems one Hound Dog of a deal.