Brian Mansfield, Special for USA TODAY
July 29, 2014
When Elvis Presley fans descend upon Memphis next month for Elvis Week, they'll find some changes at Graceland.
Starting August 9th, visitors will be guided through the King of Rock 'n' Roll's home via an iPad tour voiced by actor John Stamos.
A newly constructed archive studio has been built on the back of the property, for live presentations of artifacts as part of Graceland's platinum and VIP tours.
On August 14th, Graceland will host its first auction of authenticated Elvis artifacts, including Presley's first known signature, on a library card from the school he attended in Tupelo, Miss., and his copy of the original script for his first film Love Me Tender.
Elvis Presley Enterprises also will break ground on a $70 million, 450-room hotel project called the Guest House at Graceland.
"We've been wanting to expand for a long time and to give Elvis the credit due his legacy," says the singer's ex-wife, Priscilla Presley. "These experiences are doing just that."
The auction will feature 72 items, many of them coming from the collection of Australian singer Greg Page, a founding member of the children's band The Wiggles. Page's items include the Love Me Tender script; a maroon-and-silver 1976 Cadillac Seville, the last Cadillac Elvis purchased for his personal use; and a Martin D-28acoustic guitar he gave to one of his bodyguards.
None of the items up for bid come from the Graceland archive. In fact, Graceland might add to its collection during the auction.
"We are definitely going to be bidding on those things, too," Priscilla says.
In May, EPE announced the launch of Graceland Authenticated, an authentication and appraisal service for private collectors of Elvis artifacts and memorabilia.
Elvis' father, Vernon Presley, "kept everything, all the documentation of purchases," Priscilla says. "He kept receipts, checks, even if something was paid for in cash. We have such an extensive archive in our building. It's just amazing."
The new Guest House hotel, scheduled to open in fall 2015, will sit just north of Graceland on Elvis Presley Boulevard.
"It'll have a Southern feel, as Graceland does," says Priscilla, who is helping design the Guest House's suites. "We're going to make it, I think, very much what Elvis would have made it. I know his style. I know what he liked. I know how he liked to feel comfortable."
"He always thought that one day it would be great to have a nice hotel around so people who came to visit could go there."
The opening of the Guest House means the existing Heartbreak Hotel eventually will be phased out. "It's on its last legs," Priscilla says of the older hotel, which opened at an existing property in 1999. "It's a little antique, let's put it that way."
The tour upgrades and new projects grow out of the partnership between Graceland and Authentic Brands Group, which purchased the rights to market the Elvis Presley brand in November.
"One of the deciding factors on partnering with them was they really got Elvis' DNA," Priscilla says. "We don't really want anything that's not the culture of Elvis. Everything we have decided has been so carefully thought out, making sure this is something Elvis would do and would love."
source: USA Today