Kobe Bryant handprints among Beverly Hills auction items

(Reuters) – A copy of Kobe Bryant’s handprints, cast in cement outside Hollywood’s famed Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, are going up for auction in April along with other memorabilia of the basketball legend who died in January.

Julien’s Auctions said on Thursday that the handprints are tests that were made by Bryant in 2011 when he became the first athlete to leave his mark alongside some of the movie industry’s biggest stars in the forecourt of the theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

They have a pre-sale estimate of $4,000-$6,000.

Bryant died at age 41 in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 in the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas. His 13 year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people were also killed.

Demand for Bryant apparel and other items surged immediately after his death, with sellers on eBay (NASDAQ:) and other sites asking tens of thousands of dollars for sneakers, jerseys and balls signed by the star.

Julien’s said the Bryant items were being offered by a collector in Kentucky, and that the sale as part of its annual Sport Legends auction was already being prepared before the basketball player’s death.

“Celebrities’ auction values always increase when they pass away as they are no longer using or creating new items. It takes them to another iconic status when they pass away,”Chief Executive Darren Julien said in a statement.

“Like Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson would always be remembered, Kobe was young, vibrant because he did not age,” Julien said.

The top Kobe Bryant item is a full Los Angeles Lakers No. 8 uniform that Bryant wore during the 1999-2000 NBA finals. It carries a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-$20,000.

A pair of signed game-worn Adidas (DE:) basketball shoes bearing Bryant’s No. 8 is expected to fetch up to $4,000, along with a basketball signed by all of the 2009-2010 Lakers team members.

The April 30 auction in Beverly Hills will be preceded by a public exhibit.

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