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Johnny's Estate Is Cash-And-Carry

A 1986 Grammy award was the most expensive item in a three-day auction of the estate of Johnny Cash and his wife that captured nearly $4 million, more than double its presale estimate.

The Grammy, for best spoken word or nonmusical recording, was awarded to Cash and several colleagues and sold for $187,200, Sotheby's said Thursday. It and other items brought in a total of $3,984,260.

Many of Cash's instruments inspired heated competition among bidders: An abalone-inlaid acoustic guitar sold Tuesday for $131,200; a Black Martin guitar sold Thursday for the same price.

A Gibson Mastertone banjo owned by Cash's wife, June Carter Cash, fetched $8,400.

The auction, with a presale estimate of $1.5 million, was "the most extensive auction ever of a country music performer and one of the most important sales of an entertainer, period," Sotheby's collectibles director Leila Dunbar said.

"Johnny and June's influence in the music world transcended country," Dunbar said, "and that was clearly evident in our salesroom this week."

Many of the Cashes' stage clothes also were auctioned at higher than expected prices. Johnny Cash's black Manuel fringed coat, featured in the video for "Hurt," was sold for $27,600. His trademark three-piece Manuel black suit fetched $10,800.

Other items sold included photographs, concert posters, and letters and other personal items.

But Johnny Cash's daughter Rosanne Cash said that the auction was emotional.

"I know I probably have mascara on my face," she said. "It's not that the children didn't get special things, because we did. But it's still hard."

Son John Carter Cash said it was a blessing that so many people loved his parents.

"We're happy with the sale and how it went," he said. "But it's not easy to watch."

Johnny Cash began the process of the auction shortly before he died Sept. 12, 2003. He wanted to get rid of the clutter of the closed House of Cash museum because he understood the inheritance taxes from his estate would be a financial burden on his children.

The Cashes sold more than 50 million records during their lifetimes, and Johnny Cash is the only musician inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Cash died complications from diabetes that resulted in respiratory failure. June Carter Cash, a star with the Carter Family before she met her husband, died several months before her husband of complications from heart surgery.

By Madison J. Gray