Here Are the Most Metal Items From Black Sabbath Frontman Ronnie James Dio’s Estate Sale, Ranked
Who's in the market for an 11-foot animatronic sphinx?
He’s the man who literally invented the “heavy metal horns” hand gesture: Ronnie James Dio. The beloved rocker, perhaps best know as Ozzy Osbourne’s replacement as lead singer of Black Sabbath, died at 67 back in 2010. But if you’re still craving a blast of Dio’s dark magic, Julien’s Auctions has you covered.
“Property From the Estate of Ronnie James Dio” is set for September 14 and 15, with online bidding open now. All the items go on view at New York’s Hard Rock Café Times Square beforehand, and they have immediately sent Dio fans salivating like beasts.
Chillingly, the number of items in the sale adds up to EXACTLY 666.
Perhaps the star lot is an acrylic painting by Barry Jackson, used as the cover for Dio’s 1984 album The Last in Line, which is estimated at $20,000-30,000. For metal devotees, the sale also features an implausible number of guitars (including a 1961 Gibson EB-0 bass guitar, estimated at $8,000-$10,000) and some extremely rock-and-roll blouses and pantaloons (including a pair of star-and-moon jeans, worn while he was in Rainbow, estimated at $2,000–$4,000).
But let’s face it, those are hardly the most rockin’ items in the sale. So we’ve taken the liberty of going through every lot in the estate and ranking them for their sheer metal-ness.
Hey, if you are going to get only ONE “sign of the horn” jewelry set, make it this one from the man who started it all. (Est. $100-200)
9. These Boots
The “Ronnie James Dio” sale is a rich seam of awesome clothing. For our money, you can’t beat these custom-made boots “with antler button enclosure.” Bids start at just $100.
As for fine art, the main type Dio collected is that very specific genre: fan art. The anonymous artist behind this acrylic-on-canvas masterpiece of modern Surrealism did the genre proud! (Est. $200-400)
Looking for some enormous prop ribs? “Property from the Estate of Ronnie James Dio” sale is your place! These ribs hail from Dio’s 1990 “Lock Up the Wolves” tour. (Est. $200-300)
A leather bracelet, with an “acrylic-encased black widow spider” as gem. It comes with a magazine featuring Dio sporting the bracelet on the cover!
With six bids, the price has already blown through its high estimate and stands at $450.
A prop versions of a rapier and crossbow, for all your posing-with-rapier-and-crossbow needs. (Est. $400-600)
Let’s be clear: These aren’t just any Freddie Kruger-style bladed gloves.
These are CUSTOM-MADE Freddie Kruger cloves, with the blades fixed in the “heavy metal horns” gesture and, in the words of the description, “crudely fitted with pyrotechnics.”
Proving Dio was a true fan of the cinematic original, the gloves are sold with a draft of the script for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. (Est. $500-700)
Now we’re into the real Spinal Tap stuff. At some six feet high and more than 11 feet long, this sweet sphinx (its part of a set of two) is aptly described as “monumental” by the auction house. The head was “originally intended to swivel using a motor housed in the base,” which I think means it swivels no more.
Still awesome though. (Est. $2,000-4,000)
Speaking of removable heads… this one was originally a part of an ENTIRE ROBOTIC DRAGON that Dio led to the stage to be slain each night during his 1985-’86 “Sacred Heart” tour.
Alas, it is the only part of the beast that survives. The dragon head is “constructed in metal and painted fiberglass with backlit red eyes and hydraulic articulated jaws.”
Worried about where you will store it? It also comes with a custom-fitted rolling crate. (Est. $3,000-5,000)
Check this description: “A massive [eight-foot long!!] hydraulic powered welded aluminum black widow spider with eight fully articulated and bladed legs emanating from a central thorax fitted with eight spotlights with retractable caged head containing an additional light and red gel…”
Eight. Fully Articulated. BLADED. Legs!
Now that is METAL.
“During the 1988 Dio Dream Evil Tour the spider was suspended above the stage and slain by the band.” (Est. $5,000-7,000)
This is a copy of the script for the wildly goofy 1983 Steve Martin comedy The Man With Two Brains. It’s dedicated to Ronnie by screenwriter George Gipe, who admits he is “the bottom man on the totem pole.” Which is charming—but metal? We don’t think so. (Est. $300-500)
4. This Stool
“A black tubular metal stool with black wood seat.” Literally made of metal, but that’s all we can say for it. (Est. $200-300)
Not EVEN literally made of metal. (Est. $200-300)
Signed by Marty McFly himself—though not, as far as we can tell, to Dio personally. More for fans of Michael J. Fox than of Sabbath. Though you gotta imagine Dio loving Back to the Future‘s “I’m sorry fellas, you’re just too darn loud” scene. (Est. $200-$300)
Sent in 1973 to Dio’s parents in New York while in England, the postcard is actually quite sweet, though notably lacking in Satanic or hard-rock content. “The plane trip was quite smooth and fast. My only problem so far has been the food but I’m managing. Well I’ll be home soon so see you then. Love, Ronnie.” (The ‘R’ in Ronnie has a slash through it, as if to denote a fallen crucifix, but that’s probably just wishful thinking.) (Est. $200-400)
I mean, it’s an adorable garden gnome, so… not metal? And yet it does play a real role in Dio lore: The Holy Diver singer cut off his thumb while installing the gnome back in 2003. Is that hardcore enough for you? (Est. $200-300)
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.