Two Grateful Dead T-Shirts Become Most Expensive Rock Shirts Ever Sold at Auction
Last week, a vintage Grateful Dead T-shirt from 1967 sold at auction for a record-breaking $17,640.
That makes it the most expensive vintage rock shirt ever auctioned, per the San Francisco Chronicle.
In the same Sotheby's auction, called "From the Vault: Property from the Grateful Dead and Friends," a 1977 Dead tee went for $15,120. That one's said to now be the second most expensive vintage rock shirt ever sold.
Both garments are in great shape for their age. The 1967 T-shirt, a yellow Russell Southern Co. brand tee with a screen-printed logo, is one of the first the Dead ever mass-produced, albeit in small quantities.
It hails from the era around the act's earliest performances in the San Francisco area, and it was originally owned by Dan Healy, an audio engineer who often worked with the Dead, as reported by Defunkd. The shirt's logo was designed by Allan "Gut" Terk, a Hells Angel and "Merry Prankster" known as a key 1960s California countercultural figure.
The 1977 tee was also Healy's and comes from a gig at Cornell University. It's faded with red ringers and sports the band's classic "Steal Your Face" logo on the front.
Max Bittle, an expert vintage tee collector, remarked, "The Cornell concert is widely considered to be the pinnacle of Grateful Dead live shows. Obviously, it's amazing that an event shirt even exists and to see it go for more than $15k is just mind-blowing. When the auction went live I thought it might fetch $2-4K, so to do as well as it did is just simply amazing."
See more images of the Grateful Dead shirts below.
1967 Vintage Grateful Dead T-Shirt
Designed by the Hells Angel, Merry Prankster, and graphic artist Allan 'Gut' Terk, a key figure in California counterculture in the 1960’s. Friends with Ken Kesey, he was the painter of the Pranksters' 'Further' bus in 1964 and designed the Acid Test Graduation posters. By 1967, through his work for the Dead, he was acclaimed in the Bay Area music scene for his T-shirt and poster art.
1977 Vintage Grateful Dead T-Shirt
The legendary 8 May 1977 show at Barton Hall, Cornell University. Many consider this to be the 'Holy Grail' of the Dead's performances, and recordings of it were collected and traded for years. In 2012, a recording of the performance from the original soundboard was selected for inclusion in the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, due to its cultural significance.