Almost 1,000 lots, with a total estimated price range of $400,000 to $600,000, will go under the hammer at the December 5 sale, Julien's Auctions said. A free public exhibition in Beverly Hills begins on November 19.
Items include the blue denim jumpsuit worn by Cash in the infamous 1969 Jim Marshall photograph that depicts him wagging his middle finger into the camera lens. The country star was rehearsing at California's San Quentin Prison, and taped the show for a hit live album.
The suit, embroidered on the front with "Johnny Cash Show" and "Cash," carries a sales estimate of $3,000 to $5,000. But company president and CEO Darren Julien, who worked with Sotheby's on its Cash auction, predicted it could sell for more than $40,000.
The new auction is already attracting strong interest from investors and overseas fans, he said.
"Johnny Cash is very much a global icon. His fan base is as extensive as Michael Jackson's," Julien said.
Most of the items are being sold by "family-related" entities, he said, but he declined to reveal their identity. An unspecified portion of the proceeds will benefit MusiCares, a charity that helps musicians with health and financial problems.
Fans who want to make a grand entrance will surely vie for a knee-length black cape that unaccountably found its way into Cash's wardrobe. It is valued at $2,000 to $3,000.
Among the guitars is a Martin D-28 acoustic on which Cash wrote the first four lines of his early hit "I Walk the Line" and signed his name. Its estimated range is $20,000 to $30,000.
An undated handwritten note from Bruce Springsteen and addressed to "Big John" is on the block for $500 to $700. It reads in part, "Here's my latest (album). It's got a lot of country + folk influences + I thought you might get a kick out of it."
Cash's handwritten lyrics to dozens of obscure or unrecorded songs abound. Among them is an intriguing confessional love song called "I Draw the Line" with the couplet "I have often fallen to the lure of smoldering (cq) eyes and I've given in to the wilder side of me." It has an estimated price range of $2,000 to $4,000.
The estimated range for the items in the Sotheby's auction, designed to pay estate taxes after Cash and his wife June Carter Cash died the previous year, was also about $400,000 to $600,000, Julien said. It raised almost $4 million.