Nearly 41 years after his death, Elvis Presley’s private 1962 Lockheed JetStar 1329 is up for auction. The customized plane, which includes gold-plated hardware, woodwork, red velvet seats and shag carpet, is currently at a boneyard in Roswell, New Mexico.
The jet, arguably the largest piece of Elvis memorabilia ever to hit the auction block, is in need of restoration as its missing an engine and several cockpit components. Bidders agree to purchase the plane “as is.” According to America’s Federal Aviation Authority, Elvis paid $899,702.60 for the jet.
Elvis owned three planes yet this is the only one that is privately owned. The other two are part of the Graceland estate in Memphis, TN, according to the IronPlanet auction page. The jet is expected to fetch a tidy sum at auction. According to Robb Report Magazine, "The current owner bought the jet just last year for $430,000, well below its original multimillion-dollar estimate, so it may go for even less this time around. It’s not clear what one would do with the plane -- it would have to be disassembled and transported somewhere -- although it could potentially fetch millions if it was fully restored."
Though the plane’s interior seems fit for the King of Rock & Roll, it wasn’t actually customized for Elvis, but rather for the previous owner, Roy McKay, who thought the original two-toned gray interior "kind of looked like a casket."
There were 204 Lockheed JetStars produced by the aircraft manufacturer between 1957 and 1978. Elvis owned two, the one up for auction, and another, named Hound Dog II, which is owned by the Graceland estate, along with a Convair 880 named after the King’s daughter, Lisa Marie.
The Jetstar started as a private project at Lockheed, which was hoping to win a United States Air Force (USAF) requirement that was eventually dropped due to budget cuts. The company, however, proceeded with the project as the first business jet. One of the largest aircraft in the business class for several years, the plane seats ten, aside from the crew. It is distinct since it has four engines, mounted on the rear of the fuselage, and slipper-style fuel tanks affixed to the wings.
The Jetstar was a favorite of celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, in the 1960s. Elvis’ plane has been in Roswell, home of the International UFO Museum and Research Center, for 36 years and is a local tourist attraction. The seller hopes the plane can be fully restored before it irreparably deteriorates. Bidding ends on July 27.
Other Elvis items up for auction include a custom-designed 14k-carat yellow gold ring with a 4.5-carat diamond, which is estimated to sell for around $55,000.