Janis Joplin-Owned 1964 Porsche 356C Cabriolet Fetches $1.76 Million At Sotheby’s Auction
A 1964 Porsche 356C Cabriolet belonging to the late Janis Joplin sold for $1.76 million at a recent RM Sotheby’s auction in New York City, becoming the most expensive 356 to ever to be sold in an auction setting.
In addition to having been previously owned by one of the most influential musicians of the 1960s, this particular 356C Cabriolet is best known for its psychedelic exterior paint finish called the History of the Universe. Sotheby’s initially valued the car at anywhere from $400,000 to $600,000, but whether it was the unique mural on the body of the car or its ties to Joplin (or both), a handful of bidders went into overdrive fighting over the trippy ride. In the end, the winning bidder paid close to three times its estimated value, beating out other 356C Cabriolets that have gone under the hammer at past auctions, including another 1964 356C Cabriolet that went for $341,000 at the 2014 Worldwide Auctioneers.
The history tied into Joplin’s 356C Cabriolet is pretty straightforward. According to a listing posted by RM Sotheby’s on its website, Joplin purchased the car second-hand back in 1968. The mural, though, came after. Apparently, a roadie for Joplin’s band Big Brother and the Holding Company was responsible for creating the groovy design, which features butterflies, rainbows, and a landscape.
After Joplin’s unexpected passing in 1970, her family took ownership of the 356C Cabriolet and had it repainted in its original Dolphin Gray finish. It was only after doing so that they realized the uniqueness of the mural and had two artists bring back its colorful design using pictures of the original car. The car has also made numerous public appearances in the past, most notably in 1995 when Joplin’s family loaned it to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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Why it matters
Celebrity-owned cars usually fetch plenty of pretty pennies in any auction. Cars owned by the late Steve McQueen have routinely fetched seven figures in auctions with some even going to as high as eight figures. Remember his 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 that sold for $10.1 million at RM Auctions in 2014? His pal and fellow action hero James Coburn also had one of his classic Ferraris auctioned off. That one, a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California, fetched $10.8 million back in 2008. And lest I forget, the 1964 Aston Martin DB5, considered as the greatest movie car of all time, sold for $4.6 million in 2010.
In some ways, the $1.76 million that Joplin’s 356C Cabriolet sold for at RM Sotheby’s can be considered a relative bargain compared to the outlandish prices of the cars above. But that’s not to diminish Joplin’s star power relative to that of McQueen and Coburn.
In fact, those who lived to see Joplin’s rise to superstardom will tell you that they consider her as one of the most popular singers of her time, often referred to as the “Queen of Psychedelic Soul.”
To this day, Joplin remains one of the top-selling musicians in the U.S., having sold close to 15.5 million albums in her heyday. It’s a pity that she died when she was only 27 years old, but her legacy in music still lives on this day.
And if nothing else, the person who paid $1.76 million for her beloved 1964 Porsche 356C Cabriolet just bought one of her most prized possessions. It may not have anything to do with her music career, but it’s about as personal to Joplin as any possession she had during her life.
Read our full review on the Porsche 356here.