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Posted by Zach Doell
What does celebrity status bring to the value of a car? When said celebrity is rock icon Janis Joplin… about $1.7 million.
While it has become a stunning symbol of ‘60s counterculture, Joplin’s Porsche story began rather simply in 1968 when Joplin purchased the four-year-old car at a Beverly Hills used car dealership for just $3,500.
Inspired by another Porsche art car she had seen in California, Joplin enlisted the help of friend Dave Richards, who gave the 356 C what became known as its “History of the Universe” paint job. Richards replaced the car’s gray base coat with a vibrant Candy Apple Red paint and added portraits of Joplin’s band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, along with depictions of the California hills, the “Eye of God,” and the capricorn astrological sign.
What resulted was a car so reflective of Joplin’s artistic flair, and it would become her daily driver—a regular sighting in the San Francisco Bay Area. At one point the Porsche was even stolen and repainted, however the spray paint was carefully removed to reveal the famous psychedelic mural beneath.
Upon her tragic death at the age of 27 in 1970, Joplin’s attorney Bob Gordon took ownership of the car before returning it to the Joplin family. Over the following years it was passed between her manager Albert Grossman and her siblings, Michael and Laura. At one point the car was even restored and repainted to its original Dolphin Gray shade.
Thankfully the car’s relative anonymity wasn’t to be for long. In the early 1990s the car’s importance became fully realized and Joplin’s family enlisted artists Jana Mitchell and Amber Owen to meticulously recreate Dave Richard’s History of the Universe mural using period pictures.
Once complete, it became a 20-year fixture of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum.
Today, for the first time since 1973, the Janis Joplin Porsche will now be in the stewardship of a new owner outside of the Joplin family.