Concert T-shirts aren’t just a way to prove you were at that show anymore. These days, having the same shirt as hundreds or thousands of other people just won’t cut it for those in the collector set, who are dropping boatloads of cash on super exclusive tees.
As dictated by supply and demand, the most sought-after shirts are extremely rare, according to a recent Forbes report. The tees are part of short production runs or worn by the celebrities themselves.
Leila Dunbar, senior VP and director of collectibles at Sotheby’s, told Forbes those same shirts can reach thousands of dollars in auctions.
"I’ve seen a T-shirt worn by Johnny Cash sell for upwards of $5,000," Dunbar said. "If a piece was worn by a celebrity and the person was photographed wearing the piece, the price goes up astronomically."
For example, at a recent sale by Julien’s Auctions, an entertainment memorabilia auction house based in West Hollywood, Calif., a T-shirt worn on stage by U2’s The Edge fetched $9,600 and a Hawaiian shirt worn and signed by Brian Wilson went for $2,640.
The rarest shirts can command many times more than that.
John Lennon was photographed wearing a "Home" shirt during the ’70s when he frequented a New York restaurant by the same name, Forbes reported, and Julien’s Auctions sold the original for $16,400 a few years ago.
Seth Weiser, owner of What Comes Around Goes Around in New York City, reportedly owns two of 12 promotional sweaters made for The Rolling Stones’ Goats Head Soup tour, and is willing to part with one of them – for a mere $10,000.
"As a collector, you are killing two birds with one stone with this piece," he told Forbes. "There were only a couple made, and there is a high possibility one of the band members actually wore it."
The Web site Vintage Vantage currently lists a "My Adidas" Run-D.M.C. shirt for $13,000. Apparently, only 30 of the shirts are known to exist, making ownership of such a piece a "once in a lifetime opportunity," according to the site.
Still, reproductions of coveted tees abound and some of the "carefully aged" shirts on the market could very well fool the band members themselves.
Take for example that "Home" T-shirt worn by Lennon. The image has been licensed for reproduction and knock-offs can be found at around $40.