David Bowie’s handwritten lyrics for the hit song ‘Starman’ have been bought at auction by a Tasmanian museum owner who admitted he “got carried away” after paying five times the estimated auction price.
Originally expected to fetch up to £40,000, the hammer actually fell when £203,500 had been finally bid after a British auction house experienced “almost unprecedented” interest in the lyrics.
“We got carried away and paid too much,” the multi-millionaire owner and founder of Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) David Walsh, said. “It’ll make an appearance in the expanded library we are currently constructing, along with many other items we got carried away with and paid too much for.”
Walsh made his fortune developing a gambling system used to bet on horse racing and other sports, and opened his £45 million museum building in the Tasmanian capital Hobart 11 years ago.
The lyrics were previously on display as part of V&A Museum’s David Bowie exhibition that toured globally, and had been owned by the same person since the 1980s. Among the many exhibits the lyrics will share space with in Tasmania is Belgian conceptual artist Wim Delvoye’s “poo machine”, called Cloaca, which replicates the gastroenterological journey, ending in defecation, with an authentic smell.
‘Starman’ was released in 1972 as the lead single from Bowie’s fifth studio album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The A4 page of lyrics, which includes crossed-out spelling errors and amendments, was probably written in January 1972, according to Merseyside auction house Omega Auctions which handled the sale.
Paul Fairweather, of Omega Auctions, said there was “almost unprecedented” interest in the item, described as being in very good condition. “We had five telephone lines in operation for the sale, as well as bidders online and in the room,” he said.
Bowie, born David Jones in post-war Brixton, died aged 69 in January 2016. Last month, it was announced Bowie is to be honoured with a stone on the Music Walk of Fame in Camden, joining the likes of The Who, Madness and Amy Winehouse.