You may have seen a short story in the Daily Mail 12 days ago (or, less likely, seen one in the Augusta Chronicle last Monday) about the recent sale at auction of an Augusta National members’ green jacket. As Charlie Sale wrote in his column, it “was bought for $5 in a Canadian second-hand shop in 1994 and was worn by model Jodie Kidd on the cover of Golf International as her only article of clothing”. That was the April 2007 issue of the magazine and you can see Jodie here in all her finery – in fact, in her only finery. Among memorabilia collectors, particularly those who dote on Masters items, the ‘thrift store jacket’ had acquired quite some notoriety down the years, Jodie apart.
By the time of the auction, the jacket had also acquired a new owner since the days of the five-dollar man, and he had decided to sell it. Sale added: “It is part of an online auction…with an expected final price of £40,000.” He wrote that because, in dollar terms, the operators of the auction, fittingly and niftily called Green Jacket Auctions, were expecting $50,000 to represent the high end of the bidding. Shortly after the auction opened on March 22, there was an initial bid of $5,000. The closing deadline was 8 pm Eastern Time on April 8 (1 am on April 9 BST), at a time when Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose were locked in the 54-hole lead at this year’s tournament. In total there were 35 bids lodged and with just under eight hours to go the leader in the clubhouse was a little over $25,000. By the time the auction closed, the top bid had risen, substantially, to $139,349. That’s inflation for you!
Local sources suggested the purchaser may in fact have been Augusta National itself, hoovering up serious memorabilia that the club would prefer wasn’t floating around. And, goodness, such a sum of money would be a drop in the ocean to them. It would also fit in quite neatly with a remark made by the late, great Ian Wooldridge, also of the Daily Mail, writing about the garment in question in said issue of Golf International.
“If it had been the Turin Shroud, the secret society known as the Augusta National Golf Club could not have been more furious,” he wrote, speculating that it had “presumably been flogged by an Augusta member who’d fallen on near-inconceivable hard times.” Also, possibly, taken home by a Canadian member when the club was less rigorous about ensuring that the jackets, other than by the new champion, must not be taken from the property. Well, if the rumours are right, it’s back there now.
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