Is Janis Joplin’s 'History of the Universe' Porsche 356 Worth Half A Million Dollars?

Illustration for article titled Is Janis Joplin’s History of the Universe Porsche 356 Worth Half A Million Dollars?

While she was singing about Mercedeses, Janis Joplin’s Porsche was her coolest car. This thing might just be the greatest art car this side of Andy Warhol’s BMW M1 Le Mans racer, and it’s going for auction in two days, estimated to fetch between $400,000 - $600,000. Have a look at what you’re getting for your money.

RM Sotheby’s Driven by Disruption New York auction has a quite remarkable lot list. If you have all the money in the world, that’s clearly where you need to be on Thursday. Or your man. Somebody from your team. With a phone.


Petrolucious posted about some of the highlights, including the pretty much brand new Lamborghini Miuras SV and Fangio’s 1956 Ferrari 290 MM by Scaglietti, but I think Miss Joplin’s Porsche is also worthy of your attention, among all these other things:

But let’s get back to the “History of the Universe”. According to RM, Joplin bought her 1964 Porsche 356 C 1600 Reutter cabriolet in Beverly Hills in 1968 for $3,500:

She then handed it over to her band’s jack-of-all-trades “roadie,” Dave Richards. In the words of her brother, Michael, in a 2009 interview with Rick Marianetti of the San Francisco Examiner, “she liked his work…she gave him $500 and not a whole lot of direction.”

Richards covered the car’s grey paint—an ideal canvas—in Candy Apple Red from nose to tail. He then set to work on the new finish, inch by inch, his brushes etching out what he referred to as “The History of the Universe.” Portraits of the Big Brother and the Holding Company band members flowed up the left side; Janis’s astrological sign, Capricorn, appeared on the right rear quarter-panel. The verdant green valley of Northern California, containing a brown road that twists beneath mountains, appears on the right door, while the front hood contains “The Eye of God,” overseeing all else. Not a square inch of the Porsche’s bodywork was left untouched.

It was no stage prop; it was Janis’s daily driver.

Illustration for article titled Is Janis Joplin’s History of the Universe Porsche 356 Worth Half A Million Dollars?

After Joplin’s death, her siblings inherited the Porsche, which spent the last 20 years at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Now, it’s time to turn it into a daily driver again. Because it’s only Rock ‘n’ roll!

Photo credit: RM Auctions


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sm70- why not Duesenberg?

They almost threw me out of the R&R hall of fame for snapping a picture of this thing. They made me delete it. They’re not kidding around with the whole “no photography” thing.