The estate of a man who claimed to be a personal friend of Elvis Presley is suing the man's caretaker for stealing collectibles, including Elvis' gold jumpsuit.
According to the complaint, Sterling Gary Pepper was a personal friend of Elvis Presley (misspelled "Pressley" throughout the complaint) and President of his fan club, known as the Tankers. Over the years, the complaint states, Presley gave Pepper various items, including "a gold jumpsuit with a black collar, hair of Mr. Pressley, a 1957 Chevy automobile, clothes worn by Mr. Pressley, and numerous articles of fan club and personal memorabilia including autographed photographs of celebrities such as Marilynn Monroe and Clark Gable."
The plaintiff John Tate, described as Pepper's closest relative, asserts that Pepper had cerebral palsy and Elvis Presley hired Nancy Pease Whitehead to care for him. But, after Presley's death, when it was clear Whitehead would no longer be paid, Pepper was moved first to a home in Iowa and then to California to be near his relatives. After Pepper arrived in California, Tate went to Pepper's home in Tennesee and realized that all of his belongings, including the memorabilia, had been removed by Whitehead.
For years, Tate did not know where the memorabilia had gone until learning of the recently scheduled auction by the other defendant named in the lawsuit, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. Now, Tate is suing for, among other things, restoration of the property at issue.
Update October 18, 2009:
The auction will go on as planned Sunday after a Chicago judge allowed the sale in spite of an objection by a man claiming to be a relative of one of Elvis' personal friends. The auction is at noon at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, 1338 W. Lake.
Update October 19, 2009:
The Gary Pepper Auction was an unbelievable success. Items sold for over 20 times their estimated value. There’s no doubt that the media attention for the ‘quiff of Elvis’ triggered the interest of collectors all over the world. Staff members of ElvisMatters were among the successful bidders and we’re proud to put some of these items on display in our shop soon! Among the eye catchers of this auction were letters by Elvis’s grandfather (1,000 $US), his hair (15,000), a Sun 78 rpm record (7,320 $US) and an EP Monogrammed Cream Collared Cotton Shirt which was estimated between 2,000 $US and 4,000 $US and ultimately sold for $62,800 $US – 20/25% buyer’s premium not included.