The only-known complete set of handwritten David Bowie lyrics in private hands is heading to auction with Paddle8 this month.
Written in 1972, ‘The Jean Genie’ was the lead single for Bowie’s 1973 album ‘Aladdin Sane’, and reached No.2 in the UK singles chart.
Described by Bowie as "a smorgasbord of imagined Americana", the song was written during his first U.S tour, in the New York apartment of model and Andy Warhol associate Cyrinda Foxe. It featured a main character based on Bowie’s close friend Iggy Pop, a title which referenced the French author Jean Genet, and a guitar riff that sounded suspiciously like Bo Diddley’s blues standard ‘I’m a Man’.
This set of lyrics was hand-written by Bowie in 1972 as a gift for to Neal Peters, then President of the Original David Bowie Fan Club in the USA. It remains the only full set of hand-written Bowie lyrics to have ever appeared at auction, as almost all the singer’s working manuscripts remained in his private collection.
"With characteristic foresight, Bowie is believed to have kept almost all of his original lyrics, notes, and manuscripts, creating an archive that spanned his entire career," said the auction house. "As a result, major pieces of memorabilia rarely come on the market, and only a handful of key items have sold at auction over the years. This is the only set of complete handwritten lyrics to have come to auction."
The manuscript first sold at auction in 2010 for $14,000, before selling again in 2013 for more than $27,000. Having doubled in value between those previous sales, experts believe that renewed interest in Bowie memorabilia following the singer’s death in January 2016 could push the lyrics to a price of $50,000-$70,000.
The Legends sale will also offer several other rare pieces of Bowie memorabilia, including a rare promotional poster for Bowie’s 1972 Ziggy Stardust tour, estimated at $1,200-$1,800; a printer’s proof copy of the withdrawn colour album artwork for ‘Station to Station’, valued at $1,500-$2,000; and a large print featuring Mick Rock’s iconic photographs for the sleeve artwork of ‘Pinups’, estimated at $6,000-$8,000.
Online bidding in the Paddle8 Legends sale is now open, and closes on March 31.