NME spoke to emotional fans who were desperate to get their hands on a piece of music history
The personal belongings of The Prodigy‘s Keith Flint, who was found dead at his Essex home in March this year at the age of 49, went under the hammer at an auction in Cambridge yesterday (November 7).
Fetching a total of £347,750 across 171 lots, items up for sale included several of Flint’s gold discs, his NME Awards, a lavish custom-made bed, a two-handed sword, his record collection, motorcycle leathers and various pieces of jewellery.
Advertised as The Keith Flint Collection by auction house Cheffins, other items listed included a collection of baseball caps, various pieces of furniture, art pieces and an archive of recordings and artwork from Flint’s solo projects, after he worked under the Flint and Clever Brains Fryin’ moniker.
NME were invited along to the auction to see the event unfold and speak to some of the fans.
When asked what particular items they were interested in, fan Tameem Antonades said it was all about Flint’s jewellery. “I like the rings and the chains,” he said. Similarly, Mark Cutter, who was sporting a similar hairstyle to the one Keith Flint had in the ‘Firestarter’ video, expressed a desire to own one of the late frontman’s rings, but added “I’m just hoping I can afford it.”
“I’d like the belts, the denims,” said Darren Starling of Haverhill ahead of the auction. “I’ve been online trying to get one of the discs. I’ve been outbid already but we’ll see how we go on the night.”
After we tried and failed miserably to engage a person dressed in a giant fox head in a conversation, a super fan from Portsmouth picked up the slack.
“Keith Flint, man! He was like my idol growing up,” Mike Stephens told NME. “Back in the early 90s, during the prime of my teenage years, when I was trying to find out what I was and wasn’t into, ‘The Prodigy Experience’ came out on XL Recordings and that was it, it ticked all my boxes.
“He was a couple of years older than me and if ever you wanted an older brother – which I didn’t have – that would be the older brother figure.”
Going on to list some of the items he was hoping to land, Stephens said: “A couple of the presentation discs in particular would certainly mean a lot to me. It would be cool to have one of those, but to be fair I would be cool to go with anything.”
Due to start at 6pm, the auction was forced to start 20 minutes late after Cheffins’ website crashed due to the high number of online bidders vying to get a place in line to bid on Flint’s belongings.
The first lot up for grabs was a collection of ‘Music For the Jilted Generation’ picture discs that sold for £5,000. Following that, a piece of art by Doug Murphy (AKA PlasticGod) depicting The Prodigy frontman as a Lego figure went for £1,600.
The most expensive items on the night were three MTV Music Awards, that went for £16,000. The lot comprised of the 1997 MTV Networks Europe Viewer’s Choice Award given to The Prodigy for ‘Breathe’, another 1997 Viewer’s Choice Award, also for ‘Breathe’, and the 1997/1998 Best Dance Video Award for The Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up’.
Other big sellers included two ‘Experience’ presentation discs (£13,000), a collection of ‘The Fat Of the Land’ presentation discs (£8,000) and a John Parkin signed canvas (£4,400).
Elsewhere, a collection of printed Keith Flint memorabilia, comprising of several framed items, including an NME cover from May 6, 1995, sold for £2,200.
Two NME Awards given to Flint, one for Best Dance Act for The Prodigy in 1997, the other for Best Video for ‘Firestarter’, sold for £8,000.
Kenny Barnes, from Romford in Essex, secured the winning bid on some of Flint’s horse riding equipment, mostly comprised of boots and clothing. Barnes, a keen rider himself, is also a snowboarding fan, which is where he met The Prodigy frontman on occasion.
“The Prodigy used to practice at Brentwood dry slope and we met them over there a couple of times,” he recalled. “All of them were brilliant, and Keith was just… well, Keith.
“He just seemed so nice and so genuine and he always had time for his fans.”
Some in attendance expressed a genuine concern for the way certain bidders were sitting and leaning on items, a sentiment shared by auctioneer Martin Millard who made it a point to ask if people would kindly respect the items on display.
Commenting on the auction and its sensitive nature, Matt Wilkinson, a fan who purchased a couple of items on the night, admitted that being at the auction was a bit weird but that it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“It’s a warehouse full of somebody’s stuff,” he said. “You’re able to touch garments that somebody wore. There’s jeans on a bench, there are people sat on his couch, and part of me feels uncomfortable with that but another part of me feels like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and once it’s gone it’s gone.”
“I’ve never been to an auction before, this is my first,” he continued. “I’m definitely here because it’s Keith’s stuff and I wanted to feel like I had a part of that history as a keepsake.”
One of the biggest pick ups (literally) of The Keith Flint Collection was a large welded aluminium and steel model ant. When The Prodigy performed at the Milton Keynes Bowl in 2010, artist Obediar Madziva was commissioned to produce three large ant sculptures, based on the The Prodigy’s logo, for the stage. Each band member received one as a gift after the event.
Selling for £8,000, the buyer, who asked to remain anonymous, attended the auction specifically for the giant ant as she had been looking for something similar for her garden.
“I’ve been wanting something for the garden for a few years now and so I’ve been looking at garden structures but could never decide on anything,” she told NME.
She continued: “I’ve been a Prodigy fan since the early 90s, been to a lot of their gigs and when the auction came up I wanted to come and get something so when I saw that it just felt like the right thing to get.”
While fans travelled far and wide from all over the UK, there were some who came even further.
Demonstrating just how far the love for Flint and The Prodigy goes, Andre Legenhausen flew from Germany especially for the auction – but it’s not the first time he’s travelled for the band.
“I have been to many Prodigy concerts in Great Britain and Europe. I also flew over for Keith’s funeral earlier this year,” Legenhausen told NME. “I’ve been listening to their music for the past 20 years. Their music has always been a part of my life, through the good times and the bad.”
Winning a bid on one of Flint’s leather motorcycle uniforms, Legenhausen said he was happy he managed to get his hands on something to remember the late frontman by. “I know that it’s in good hands and I will hold it in honour of Keith until the end of my life.”
The final item up for sale on the night was a Steve Liddard custom built oak and steel bed. A unique item that Cheffins auctioneer Martin Millar said would appeal to a limited market, the bed is supported at each corner by entwined thorns and accessed via steps supported on the back of a crouching, winged mythical beast. According to Cheffins, it is understood that Flint worked closely with Steve Liddard on the design of the bed.
Expected to attract a large figure, the bed ended up selling for £8,500. It was sold to a local hotel owner, who wasn’t a follower of Flint or The Prodigy, but was impressed with the craftsmanship of the bed.
“It’s very nicely made,” he told NME, before comparing its stature to that of the Great Bed of Ware. “This can now be the Great Bed of Cambridge.”
Adding that he got the bed at a bargain price, he said he would have bid higher had it been required.
Talking to NME after the auction ended, auctioneer Martin Millard said he was very pleased with how things went. “We’re delighted. I don’t think it could have gone any better. I think it surpassed all expectations yet we had no real sense of how it was going to do.”
Speaking on the huge number of people who chose to bid in person at Cheffins’ auction house in Cambridge as opposed to online, Millard added: “It was an event, it wasn’t just a disposal of assets. It was a chance to see all of Keith’s personal possessions, to sit amongst them, to watch them be sold. It was a one-off. It was really great to see the number of people who came out and who had been queuing all day to be a part of history.”
All 171 lots of The Keith Flint Collection sold for a grand total of £347,750, which will be passed on to Keith Flint’s estate. To see the full list of everything that went under the hammer and exactly how much it sold for, you can visit the Cheffins website.