Arthur Ashe estate up for auction: Tennis trophies, wisdom teeth
(CNN) — The largest collection ever of Arthur Ashe memorabilia will be auctioned off on the 20th anniversary of the tennis legend’s death, with everything from his trophies to his wisdom teeth up for grabs.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale by the Ashe family will go to the Arthur Ashe Learning Center, the non-profit foundation that promotes the tennis great’s legacy as an athlete and activist.
“Arthur Ashe’s life and career is really about the highest highs and lowest lows,” said Nate D. Sanders, who will hold the online auction on February 6.
Ashe, who was from Richmond, was the first black man to win the U.S. Open in 1968 and Wimbledon in 1975, and become known in later years for promoting racial tolerance and AIDS awareness.
Ashe was forced to disclose he had AIDS in 1992 after being told that USA Today intended to print a story about his illness as soon as it could confirm it.
In a televised news conference, Ashe told the world he contracted AIDS through a tainted blood transfusion during heart-bypass surgery in the 1980s.
“I am sorry I have been forced to make this revelation now at this time,” he said at the time. “After all, I am not running for some office of public trust nor do I have stockholders to account to. It is only that I only fall under the dubious umbrella of ‘public figure.’”
He died at the age of 49 on February 6, 1993.
Among the more than 300 items up for auction:
– With a starting bid of $2,500, Ashe’s 1993 day planner that contains “his own handwritten record of his very last days.” The entries include reminders to finish a farewell message to his daughter and a note to cancel an Olympics meeting.
– With a starting bid of $1,000, Ashe’s U.S. passport that includes a landmark 1973 entry stamp into South Africa. He was repeatedly denied entry by the then-apartheid nation to play in the South African Open for years.
– With a starting bid of $1,000, the U.S. Open doubles trophy silver plate awarded to Ashe in 1968. He went on to win the men’s singles.
– With a starting bid of $1,000, Ashe’s day planner from the year he won Wimbledon. Among his handwritten entries are notes about Wimbledon’s start date and his travel plans.
– With a starting bid of $100, 213 programs from Ashe’s funeral.
– With a starting bid of $1,000, “unique and personal items owned by Arthur Ashe, including two of his wisdom teeth.”