Whitney Houston's See-Through Piano Fetches $20,000
Although the final tally on how much they spent will not be disclosed due to pending litigation, more than 200 people packed a dingy warehouse in Irvington, New Jersey, to bid on everything from musical instruments to couture evening gowns to a Rubbermaid container filled with pantyhose that once belonged to the singer.
A Mississippi man who identified himself to reporters as an "anonymous bidder" bought the grand piano because he said it was a great deal. He said the piano retails for $121,000, and he plans to resell it.
Piola Bass, 24, of Queens, N.Y., was arguably the most excited buyer. She squealed when she was the high bidder for both a white leather chair dubbed "Whitney's Throne" that sold for $2,000 and Houston's traveling vanity, which was filled with various items such as a disposable razor, herbal throat tea and a bottle of Gatorade, and sold for $550.
"I'm going to put them in my living room," Bass, a self-described Houston fanatic, declared to PEOPLE. Bass said she will not empty the contents of the vanity, gushing that she loved it because "that's where she got dressed every day!"
The sale, primarily of items the singer picked up during her 1999 world tour, was ordered by the New Jersey Superior Court to cover storage debts. The judge in the case sanctioned the auction to allow Speed of Sound warehouse to recoup the money it lost after Houston's company, Nippy Inc., stopped paying the warehouse's monthly storage fee in May 2005.
Speed of Sound's lawyer, Jeffrey Campisi, told PEOPLE the warehouse is owed between $225,000 and $250,000 and Houston will be allowed to keep any additional money from the auction.
Houston's publicist, Nancy Seltzer, said last week that the singer was selling unneeded tour equipment and that a portion of proceeds would pay the storage debt. "It is not unusual for an artist to sell off old equipment and costumes no longer needed," Seltzer said in a statement.
The auction also included more than 200 pieces of clothing and shoes, including Dolce & Gabbana bustiers, Versace gowns and Manolo Blahnik shoes. A Badgley Mischka beaded evening dress garnered the highest bid for a single article of clothing at $475.