What Happened To Elvis Presley's Personal Bible?

Nearly half a century after the untimely death of Elvis Presley, Elvis memorabilia remains big business. The King of Rock 'n' Roll continues to enjoy a dedicated fanbase both among older listeners and new ones who have encountered his music for the first time thanks to streaming services, album reissues, and the popular 2022 biopic directed by Baz Luhrmann. And it seems that many are willing to pay big bucks for objects from the King's life and the chance to own their own piece of musical greatness.

In 1999, a high-profile auction of memorabilia took place at Presley's Graceland ranch, which since his death has been turned into a museum to his memory. Back then, fans bid tens of thousands of dollars on personal items including Presley's school report card, his draft card, and his RCA recording contract (per News on 6). But Presley's possessions continue to change hands regularly, and even deep into the 2000s items the King held dear regularly come up for auction and fetch incredible prices. One of these is Elvis' personal Bible, which was auctioned in the U.K. in 2012 and soared well beyond its estimate thanks to a bidding war between three Elvis superfans.

Elvis' religious beliefs

The Bible in question is considered incredibly valuable among Elvis Presley fans for several reasons. The religious text was a gift to the King from his Uncle Vester and Aunt Clettes, who gave it to him on the occasion of his first Christmas at his Graceland ranch in 1957. It was embossed with his name on the cover. Presley kept the Bible in his possession for 20 years, and reportedly read from it often.

Presley's stepbrother Billy Stanley told The Guardian in 2022 that he believes the King's religious convictions have been neglected in biographies of his life. Stanley claims that Presley was a devout Christian who would pray before shows and considered performing gospel music to be a form of religious worship. He also recalls that Presley would read from the Bible to Stanley and his brothers, who were still children at the time they moved into the Graceland ranch after their mother married Presley's father.

As well as bearing Presley's name, the Bible is of special interest to both fans and scholars of the King as it reportedly contains numerous notes he had written in the book over the years as well as underlinings which give a valuable insight into his Christian beliefs.

Sold for a fortune

It is no surprise then that the unique lot garnered plenty of attention among Elvis Presley memorabilia collectors when it was put up for auction in 2012. According to the BBC, the auction generated a great deal of excitement, especially when the bidding broke the £20,000 ($30,980) mark.

The bidding soon surpassed the estimate of £25,000 ($38,725), but showed no sign of slowing, with three telephone bidders building the sum ever higher and ratcheting up the tension in the Greater Manchester auction room. Eventually, the Bible sold for an astonishing £59,000, or $94,000, stunning the auctioneers. "There was a round of applause when the hammer went down. It was incredible," auctioneer Karen Fairweather told the BBC. The new owner remained anonymous but was identified as an American buyer who lived in the U.K.

The Bible was just one of several pieces of Elvis memorabilia on sale at the auction, not all of which were quite so classy. As Rolling Stone reports, one of the lots included a stained pair of Presley's underpants, but the garment failed to meet its reserve price and remained unsold, proving that not everything the King touched turned to gold.