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Estate sale showcases blues singer's personal effects

Friday, September 19, 2003

DALLAS (AP) - Personal effects of the late blues singer Johnnie Taylor -- including his multiple gold records and the recording industry's first platinum single, "Disco Lady" -- will go on sale to the public Friday and Saturday to help satisfy some of the debts from his estate.

"I think those records will be quite popular," said Brant Laird, owner of Brant Laird Appraisals and Estate Sales, which is handling the estate sale. "I think they'll sell pretty quickly."

Other items being sold are Taylor's 9.66-carat diamond ring, a diamond-encrusted gold bracelet, a diamond and emerald ring, gold necklaces, furs, a baby grand piano and a restored 1946 Wurlitzer jukebox filled with records from the 1940s.

The big diamond ring is going for $31,500 and the jukebox for $6,750. The asking price on the platinum record is $3,500, while the certified gold records have $500 price tags.

Most are priced below $500, Laird told The Dallas Morning News for its Friday editions.

Taylor's ex-wife, Gerri Taylor, played down the significance of the items and the sale. She and Taylor divorced 20 days before he died in May 2000 of congestive heart failure at age 62.

"They're just getting rid of some stuff they don't want," said Gerri Taylor, referring to estate lawyers.

Gerri Taylor, who still lives in the North Dallas home she shared with her former husband, said she isn't upset that strangers will be rummaging through the entertainer's personal items.

All proceeds from the sale will go to pay debts from Johnnie Taylor's estate, estimated to be more than $325,000, with the bulk of that owed to the IRS for back taxes.

Linda Wiland, a Dallas lawyer who is administering Taylor's estate, said it is unlikely the two-day sale will generate enough money to satisfy all the debts. That probably would be done after the sale of the house, which has been on the market for three years.

Under the terms of their divorce, Gerri Taylor is entitled to half the proceeds from the sale of the 7,370-square-foot home, valued at $895,000. Taylor's estate will get the other half.

In addition, the court designated Gerri Taylor as the agent for the sale of the home, meaning she would collect a commission whenever it's sold.

In October 2002, a Dallas County probate judge ruled that three more people should be recognized as Taylor's children, bringing to nine the number of official heirs.

Last month, those heirs were given the opportunity to purchase their father's items during a private family sale. Only two showed up, and Gerri Taylor represented two children that she and Taylor had together.

"I thought more of them would be there," said Laird, who conducted that sale. "And the two that showed up didn't buy very much."

That leaves plenty for the general public, which will get its first look Friday at the Taylor home.

Laird said he is expecting between 4,000 and 5,000 people, although many of them may not buy anything. He said that the sale is not an auction and that he has "priced the things to sell."

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