Released in August 1980 with a budget of £250,000 ($500,000), the short film promoting Ashes to Ashes was at the time the most expensive music video ever made and stands as one of the priciest and most memorable of all time.
We all envision Bowie in the Pierrot costume created by Russian costume designer Natasha Korniloff that lives on both as the ascendant image for the Ashes To Ashes single and the Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) album cover.
Sparing no expense on his journey to superstardom, Bowie hired David Mallet, among the most inventive directors of 1980s music videos, to co-direct the short film to promote the lead single from the forthcoming album.
Bowie’s directorial debut forever imprinted on us the image of Pierrot leading the Blitz Kids marching toward the camera in front of a bulldozer, a scene which Bowie later described as “symbolizing oncoming violence”.
In a self-referential homage to his Space Oddity alter ego Major Tom, Bowie appears seated in a space navigation chair clad in a black rubber space suit in an exploding kitchen, with a frenzied nurse in the background.
While navigating a womb-like cocoon room reminiscent of Swiss artist H. R. Giger’s magnificently monstrous designs showcased a year earlier in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror blockbuster Alien, Bowie wears a protective suit spawning life-support hoses.
That apocalyptic costume, which he dons before the video ends with Bowie back as Pierrot being lectured by an elderly woman while strolling along the beach, is now for sale. It’s among an array of more than 1,500 rare lots, including more than 500 music objects, that go on the block during Propstore’s Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction on November 3-6. Online proxy bids can be submitted now. The live auction will be held at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly, London, as well as online or via telephone bidding.
The Bowie-worn protective suit is expected to fetch between £60,000-£80,000 ($69,419-$92,558).
Other top lots include:
- Noel Gallagher’s custom silver sparkle Gibson Les Paul Florentine Guitar (estimate £300,000-£500,000 [$347,095- $578,492]).
- Set of three Oasis Wonderwall music video screen-and-photo-matched guitars played by Noel Gallagher (estimate £150,000-£250,000 [$173,547-$289,246]).
- The Beatles Altec 605A Abbey Road Studio monitors (estimate £60,000-£100,000 [$69,419- $115,698]).
- Dave Grohl-handwritten setlist from the Nirvana Nevermind tour, with ticket stub (estimate £5,000-£7,000 [$5,784-$8,098]).
- Rachel Marron’s screen-matched Complete Hero “Queen of the Night” costume worn by Whitney Houston (estimate £40,000-£60,000 [$46,279-$69,419]).
- Elvis Presley-signed gun license application (estimate £40,000-£60,000 [$46,279-$69,419]).
- George Harrison-owned Dallas ‘E’ Banjolele (estimate £40,000-£60,000 [$46,279-$69,419]).
- John Lennon custom-tailored Madame Tussauds suit (estimate £30,000-£50,000 [$34,709-$57,849]).
- Michael Jackson photo-matched studded leather bracer (estimate £30,000-50,000 [$34,709-57,849]).
- Paul McCartney’s photo-authenticated Morecambe & Wise Show striped blazer (estimate £25,000-£35,000 [$28,924-$40,494]).
- Slash’s leather jacket from Guns N’ Roses Paradise City video (estimate £25,000-£35,000 [$28,924-$40,494]).