Someone Spent a Record $17,640 on a Grateful Dead T-Shirt from 1967
You can't put a price on style.
You can't put a price tag on some things, like style and original Grateful Dead merch. Actually, you can put a number on the latter, and apparently, it's higher than you think. One ultra-rich collector is now the proud owner of a vintage Grateful Dead T-shirt, and they got it for $17,640.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the shirt, which was listed in excellent condition, was auctioned off by Sotheby's as part of the "From the Vault: Property from the Grateful Dead and Friends" lot. The shirt, from 1967, is believed to be one of the first the band mass-produced, and while it is a rare find, Sotheby's had only estimated that shirts in the collection would go for between $350 and $700.
The Grateful Dead shirt's more than $17,000 price tag set a record for the most expensive vintage rock shirt ever sold. It edged out the previous title holder, a Led Zeppelin T-shirt from 1979, by nearly two times the cost. That shirt sold on eBay for $10,000.
Defunkd reported that Dan Healy, an audio engineer who worked with the Dead back in the day, was the original owner of the shirt. He included another shirt in the auction, which sold for $15,120 and became the second most expensive vintage rock shirt ever sold.
That shirt was from a spring 1977 Grateful Dead tour, which featured a stop at Cornell University. It features the band's "Steal Your Face" logo, which shows a partial skull with a lightning bolt in it.
Bo Bushnell is the collector who won the auction and paid the price. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, he actually paid way more than $17,640 when all was said and done. The price was closer to $19,315.80 after expenses and fees.
The extremely expensive T-shirt is now part of Bushnell's extensive collection of motorcycle club artifacts from the 1960s. He runs an Instagram account called Outlaw Archive that shares his acquisitions, including the T-shirt. It's unclear if Bushnell's a Deadhead.
The yellow T-shirt's simple design was created by Allan "Gut" Terk, a Hell Angel's member and artist, which drew Bushnell to the piece according to his social media account.
"We just did this to keep the memory of Gut 'Terk' alive and to keep his history under one roof," a post on Outlaw Archive, shared after Bushnell bought the T-shirt, read.
Sotheby's sale includes several other items from the 1970s through the 1990s, which were peak tour eras for the world-famous band. Pieces were collected by people close to the band or people who worked with them in some way. The collection includes shirts, jumpsuits, guitars, instruments, and pieces from the Wall of Sound, a three-story PA system created by the band in 1974.