Want a one-of-a-kind piece of punk rock history? Your chance might come Saturday, when one of three awnings that overlooked CBGB is put on the auction block at Sotheby’s.
The auction house says it’s an original hand-painted white vinyl awning that hung above the legendary music club at 315 Bowery.
It’s one of 133 lots being offered during Saturday’s auction of rock memorabilia at Sotheby’s called “A Rock and Roll Anthology: From Folk to Fury.” It includes all sort of items from the Beatles and Rolling Stones to B.B. King and David Bowie through Lady Gaga and Madonna.
So how did this piece of special vinyl — which the auction house estimates is worth $25,000 to $35,000 — end up on the Sotheby’s block, especially since CBGB closed 10 years ago?
Drew Bushong has been its protector, as the former CBGB manager says he has kept it under his bed for more than a decade.
He said that he didn’t originally acquire the awning as a gift from longtime CBGB’s owner Hilly Kristal, nor did he steal one as 80’s punk rock group JFS (Jodie Foster’s Army) have long been accused of doing (which they allegedly deny).
Rather, he picked up a box left for the garbage by the club while walking home after he’d drinking one night around 2004.
“I see this familiar box that had been on Hilly’s desk for months,” said Bushong, who said he started working at the club as a doorman in 2000. “I couldn’t figure out why they were throwing all this stuff out, like Christmas lights or something. I threw it over my shoulder and walked home.”
Of course, it took man’s best friend to discover what treasure he now had.
“I didn’t know until I had to walk my dog the next day that I had the awning in my possession,” Bushong said. “It was pretty exciting.”
He was hesitant to let word spread of his discovery, though.
“I didn’t know if it was illegal to pick out of the trash,” Bushong said. “I was mostly stressed. I remembered Hilly had threatened to call the Hell’s Angels on JFA [over the awning], and I had one under my bed.”
He told the auction house that this is the second awning of three at hung over the entrance of the club, which opened in 1973. He thinks the first one disappeared in the late 1980’s and this one replaced it until around 2003, when Kristal put it in a box. The final one is now in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
But now, years later, while it’s hard for Bushong to let it go, he does see how selling the awning at Sotheby’s continues the strong punk tradition.
“How punk is it to be drunk at a bar, pick through your employer’s trash and make money off it after you’ve slept on it ten years later?”