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Memphis: Elvis' private planes at Graceland are up for auction

Elvis Presley's private planes, long housed at Graceland by the owners, are on the auction block now

One thing Elvis fans won't be able to do for long: Go to Graceland to tour his private planes the Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II. Both planes at the King's Memphis home are up for sale in an auction that ends Feb. 2.

Elvis bought a Convair 880 in 1975 for $250,000 and named it the Lisa Marie (in honor of his daughter). He tricked it out with more than $600,000 in goodies, including a queen-sized bed, 24K gold seat belt buckles, a bathroom that has gold faucets and basin, and a stereo system with 50 speakers.

The plane has four parts: a main lounge with couches and comfy seats, a conference room or dining table, a private club room and the master bedroom suite.

"Basically you're buying a ready-made museum," says Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills. (Here's Nolan's video tour of the Lisa Marie.)

Elvis, who would have celebrated his 80th birthday Thursday, oversaw all of the design details of the inside of the plane. In fact, he bought the Hound Dog II (a Lockheed JetStar) the same year just so he could fly while the Lisa Marie was being refurbished.

Neither plane can be flown now. They don't have engines in them, and it would be crazy expensive to try and retrofit parts, Nolan says.

So why are they on the auction block? The planes have been at Graceland since the mid-1980s under a joint venture agreement with Elvis Presley Enterprises that promised the owners a cut of the ticket share, according to Nolan. Graceland decided not to renew the agreement and wants the planes gone by April.

Graceland fans will be able to tour the planes until April 25.

Meanwhile, the sealed bid auction that began Friday (one bid for both planes) has generated much interest, with potential bidders from all over, including Memphis, Ireland and the Middle East.

Nolan said the winning bidder wouldn't be disclosed until late March or early April.

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