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Elvis and red velvet boost value of jet up for auction

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A private jet once owned by Elvis Presley and featured on the National Geographic Channel is set to be auctioned after sitting on a runway in New Mexico for 30 years.

The red 1962 Lockheed Jetstar, one of many owned by the King of rock ‘n’ roll, has no engines and needs a restoration of its cockpit. But Elvis designed the interior that has red velvet seats and red shag carpet. The plane had been a source of mystery in Roswell, New Mexico where it has sat largely untouched and tucked away at a small airport’s tarmac.

Liveauctioneers.com, which is handling the bidding, said the jet was owned by Elvis and his father, Vernon Presley. “This jet has the potential of being fully restored, and placed on exhibit for the world to come see,” the auction website said.

Photos of the plane show exterior in need of restoration and seats of the cockpit torn.

Roswell International Air Center Interim Director Scott Stark said the plane is privately owned and rarely was open for tours. “It’s been five or six years since there have been any tours of it,” Stark said.

However, the owner has allowed the plane to be shown at various aviation events. Stark said the owner, whose name has not been released, recently decided to sell it.

GWS Auctions Inc. of California said on its website the plane will be auctioned May 27 at an event in California featuring celebrity memorabilia including handwritten notes from The Beach Boys and lost photos of the late R&B singer Aaliyah.

GWS Auctions Inc. did not immediately return a phone message and email from The Associated Press.

The auction house estimates the Elvis plane’s value at $2 million to $3.5 million.

Elvis also owned more well-known planes. The Lisa Marie plane, for example, can be seen at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.

Presley was born in Tupelo on Jan. 8, 1935, and moved to Memphis with his parents at age 13. He became a leading figure in the fledgling rockabilly scene by covering songs originally performed by African-American artists like Big Mama Thornton (Hound Dog) and Arthur Crudup (That’s All Right).

His provocative dancing and hit records turned him into one of the 20th century’s most recognizable icons. Historians say his music also helped usher in the fall of racial segregation.

Elvis was 42 when he died on Aug. 16, 1977, in Memphis.