Could you have ever imagined that a signature may be worth thousands of dollars? Collectors are ready to pay almost any price for objects signed by historical figures. The rarest autographs are of the greatest value. We’ve picked ten of the most expensive autographs sold at auction. Find out whose signatures are worth their weight in gold.
#10 John F. Kennedy
Just two hours before being assassinated, John F. Kennedy signed the front page of the Dallas Morning News for a hotel maid. It is the last known autograph of the former President. The newspaper was purchased for $39,000 in a Heritage Auction by a California collector.
#9 Jesse James
Jesse James was the American Robin Hood of the 19th century. Regardless of having been an outlaw, he was loved by American society. In 1882, he was shot by a fresh recruit of his own robbery gang, Robert Ford. Jesse signed a photo taken by a Nashville photographer in 1876. In 2011, this autographed photo was bought for $52,000 at the Leslie Hindman Auctioneers event. The buyer wished to remain anonymous.
#8 Jimmy Page
An autographed guitar of Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin founder and record producer was estimated at $55,000. In 1963 the Gibson EDS-1275 model was bought by an anonymous individual. The guitar is still playable and functional.
#7 Albert Einstein
In 2017, a signed photo of Albert Einstein sticking out his tongue was sold for $125,000 at the Nate D. Sanders auction house in LA. The photo was taken by the photographer Arthur Sasse in 1951. Albert Einstein liked the photo and ordered 9 copies to give to friends. Earlier in 2009, this photo was sold at an auction for $74,324.
#6 Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe
An autographed baseball was sold for $191,200 at a sporting auction in 2006. It was signed by the world-famous celebrity couple – Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. The ball was purchased by an anonymous individual who referred to himself as “an East Coast collector who is a big fan of both DiMaggio and Monroe”.
#5 Jimi Hendrix
In 1965, the famous American singer and guitarist Jimi Hendrix signed a contract maintaining that he would only receive $1 and 1% of recording royalties. This contract became authentic memorabilia and was sold for $191,000 in an auction just a few years after being signed.
#4 Babe Ruth
A baseball signed by Babe Ruth was sold for $388,375 in a 2012 auction. The baseball legend signed the ball to Johnny Sylvester and wrote “I’ll knock a homer for Wednesday’s game” on it. Johnny was seriously ill and Ruth encouraged a boy by giving him a promise to win. After losing the series in 7 games, Ruth apologized by saying “I’m sorry the Yanks lost”.
#3 John Lennon
The album entitled “Double Fantasy” was signed by John Lennon just a few hours before he was shot. The peculiar thing is that Lennon signed it for his murderer, Mark Chapman. The album was found by an anonymous man in a flower planter near the place of the murder and was sent to the police. They returned it to the man sometime later. In 1999, he sold it for $850,000.
#2 Abraham Lincoln
48 copies of the Emancipation Proclamation were signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. Only 26 copies are known to have survived. In 2010, one of these copies showed up in an auction and was purchased for $3.7 million, making it the highest price ever paid for a document signed by President Lincoln.
#1 George Washington
In 2012, George Washington’s personal copy of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, signed by him on the document’s first page, was sold at auction for $9.8 million. The auction lasted only five minutes. The non-profit organization known as the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union was the successful bidder and transported the signed copy to George Washington’s library.
Originally published in March 2018, updated in April 2023 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.