When auctioneer Victor Mattucci said "sold for $1,100." Brian Roussel leaped straight up into the air screaming, "I got it, I got it, I got it!"
He kissed his wife mary and ran forward to examine his prize: an iron gate that once was inside Elvis Presley's mansion. Graceland, in Memphis.
Roussel, 33, like his wife a school teacher, had driven 500 miles from his home in Burlington, Ontario, on Thursday to buy enough items that had belonged to the singer to make an "Elvis" room in his 10-room house.
So, in addition to the gate, Roussel bought a piece of Baltimore Hilton stationery autographed by Presley for $400, a shirt for $375, a chair for $200, a pair of karate pants for $185 and a lamp for $100.
All these items, along with several others said to have belonged to Presley, who died last Aug. 16, were sold yesterday by the singer, Jimmy Velvet.
The heavy pre-auction advertising of "Elvis Presley-owned items." (there were 18 items owned by the late singer out of more than 200 items in the sale) brought a crowd of about 300 to the steamy Glen Burnie armory yesterday afternoon.
Many of them were curiosity seekers, but they all had to pay $2 to get in to look at the item. If they wanted to bid on anything, they had to put down a $50 deposit.
Thus, there were only about 30 bidders in the crowd.
Roussel, 33, was by far the biggest buyer but he was not alone in his quest for Presley memorabilia.
"I always loved Elvis," said Alice Whitaker, a housewife from Baltimore, "and I just wanted to have things that would remind me of him. Not necessarily big things, anything. I didn't care about the controversy (over the auction)." Whitaker purchased a snapshot of Presley for $1 and a replica of one of his rings for $20.
The controversy had arisen during the last two weeks when Vernon Presley, father of the late singer, said publicly that to his knowledge, Velvet owned nothing that had belonged to his late son.
In addition, the gate sold yesterday had originally been advertised as Graceland's front gate. Hearing that, Vernon Presley had said he would shoot Velvet if he came near the Graceland front gate.
To add to Velvet's problems, three major items he had advertised: a motorcycle, a Bible and a painting of Graceland - all Presley's - had been pulled from the auction by Col. Don Smith when Velvet chose Mattucci over him as the auctioneer.
Six women, members of the "Welcome to Our Elvis World" fan club, stood outside the Armory carrying placards warning the public to "Beware of a ripoff," and handing out literature quoting Vernon Presley.
"The thing that bothers us the most is that he [Velvet] is trying to make a buck off of knowing Elvis," said Carol Wlasic, speaking for the fan club. "We're not telling people not to go in, just to be careful."
The controversy and the $2 entry fee combined to keep the cynism running high among those inside, many of whom came in 50s-style clothing, with 50s-style hairdos.