Elvis Presley's planes up for auction

Elvis Presley's planes up for auction
Presley bought the Lisa Marie for $334,000 in April 1975, just two years before his death, then spent lavishly to customise it. The Convair 880 jet is on auction along with a smaller Lockheed JetStar known as Hound Dog II.

WASHINGTON - Two of Elvis Presley's private jets are up for auction after spending three decades on display at his Graceland estate in Memphis, Tennessee.

Neither the vintage Convair 880, dubbed the Lisa Marie after Presley's daughter, nor the smaller Lockheed JetStar, known as Hound Dog II, are deemed air- worthy.

But for devout fans of the King of Rock 'n' Roll, who would have been 80 today, the two aircraft afford a unique glimpse into his jet-setting lifestyle.

Presley acquired the Lisa Marie in April 1975, two years before his death, for US$250,000 (S$334,000), then spent lavishly to customise it to his own specifications. Its 29-seat interior features a master suite with forward lounge, conference room, private club room and suite, and a bathroom with gold faucets and wash basin.

Entertainment on what the superstar liked to call "the pride of Elvis Presley Airways" was provided by a 52-speaker sound system and a four-television in-flight video tape system.

Formerly operated by Delta Air Lines, the Convair 880 was in its day a rival to the iconic Boeing 707. It was sold by Presley's father in 1978, and changed hands several times before it was towed alongside the smaller TriStar to Graceland.

Los Angeles auction house Julien's said that it would accept sealed bids for the aircraft until Feb 2. It anticipated interest from collectors, aviation enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, who might put the planes on show elsewhere.

Since the 1980s, the two jets - which belong to OKC Partnership of Memphis - have been on display at Graceland under a joint venture agreement with Elvis Presley Enterprises.

Last year, Elvis Presley Enterprises said that it would not renew that arrangement, prompting OKC Partnership to put advertisements in specialist aviation magazines looking for buyers.

With no reasonable offers coming in, and the expiration of the joint venture agreement in April drawing ever closer, OKC Partnership opted for an auction instead.

"They're not flyable airplanes. They're really celebrity memorabilia," a source familiar with the aircraft told AFP on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

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