David Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’ Spacesuit Is Being Auctioned Off

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Videos by Rare

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David Bowie’s iconic Major Tom spacesuit from his “Ashes to Ashes” music video is going up for auction next month. It’s part of a $1.7 million auction held by Prop Store, an online auctioneer that specializes in Hollywood memorabilia. Also included in the auction will be a pair of signed boots worn by Spice Girl Mel B, a top worn by Rihanna at the Super Bowl, and a Gibson Les Paul Florentine once played by Oasis Noel Gallagher.

Who Was Major Tom?

David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” spacesuit was emblematic of Major Tom, who many would argue was David Bowie’s first alter ego. While Major Tom wasn’t played out for as long as other alter egos such as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, and The Thin White Duke, he was a huge part of Bowie’s rise to success.

Major Tom first appeared in 1969 on Bowie’s first, self-titled album, David Bowie. That album was later renamed to Space Oddity, named after the album’s hit song. Many will remember the lyrics:

“Ground Control to Major Tom…”

“Space Oddity” is about an astronaut who takes off and then suffers a spacecraft malfunction. However, Ground Control cannot get through to him, and he is left there, contemplating the Earth and death, as he’s “floating in my tin can.”

“Ashes to Ashes” : Major Tom Returns

“Ashes to Ashes” was a song on Bowie’s 1980 album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps). The hit song “Fashion” was released on the same album.

In “Ashes to Ashes,” the story of Major Tom continues. This time, however, Major Tom is essentially used as a metaphor for severe drug addiction, which Bowie was known to struggle with.

The chorus went:

“Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom’s a junkie
Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low.”

The “Ashes to Ashes” music video was the world’s first music video to cost over $500,000 to make. It was, at one point, the most expensive music video in the world. For perspective, $500,000 in 1980 would be about $1.8 million today.

The music video gives off quintessential 80s glam rock and sci-fi vibes. Scenes cut between Bowie (aka Major Tom) sitting in the spacesuit and holding up photographs, Bowie sitting in a room with white walls, and Bowie dressed as a glamorous clown.

When Is the Auction?

Prop Store will be holding the auction for Bowie’s Major Tom-worn spacesuit on November 4. The starting bid is set at £30,000 ($33,174) but is expected to sell for between £60,000 – £80,000 ($66,348 – $88,464). It’s hardly a drop in the bucket for something that once adorned beloved Bowie’s body, and on a historic music video such as “Ashes to Ashes.”

The auction will begin at 3 p.m. GMT, which is 4 hours ahead of EST. So, if you have the cash to spare, set your alarm clocks. That’s 11 a.m. if you’re on the East Coast and 8 a.m. if you’re on the West Coast. You can sign in to Prop Store to place a bid online.

Prop Store auctioneer lists Major Tom’s space suite along with the following description:

“A spacesuit worn by legendary singer-songwriter David Bowie (in his Major Tom persona) in the music video for his 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes”, the lead single from his album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)…

“The suit originated from the collection of musician Gideon Wagner, who shared a manager with Bowie in Kenneth Pitt. Over the years, Wagner was given several items of Bowie’s clothing by both Pitt and Bowie. Wagner stated he was given this suit soon after the completion of filming, and wore the garment on several occasions for his own performances.

This futuristic garment is a customised high-altitude pressure Mk. 2A suit, designed in the 1950s to be worn under a flying suit and help keep its wearer cool while in the high-temperature cockpit of an RAF jet. It is made of thin white nylon and features a system of PVC tubes sewn all over, with Velcro fastening at the back of the neck. Within the neckline is a maker’s label marked “Size No. 4” and dated 1961. …”

Description of Lot # 496 : DAVID BOWIE – Ashes to Ashes Music Video Worn Major Tom Spacesuit, Via PropStoreAuction.com

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