Winning Bidder Returned ‘Grease’ Jacket to Olivia Newton-John, Donated $ to Her Charity

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The winning bidder at a 2019 auction of Olivia Newton-John’s black leather jacket from her 1978 starring role in the motion picture, Grease, returned the iconic costume to the singer and donated its $243,000 price to her cancer treatment center. The sale of the jacket and skin tight, high-waist pants were among hundreds of items from her recording and film career that were sold weeks earlier on Nov. 2.

The bidder shared the news and a check with Newton-John. He has chosen to remain anonymous. “It should not sit in a billionaire’s closet for country club bragging rights,” he was quoted as saying.

“The odds of beating a recurring cancer using the newest emerging therapies is one-thousand-fold greater than someone appearing out of the blue, buying your most famous and cherished icon, and returning it to you, which is what i’m going to do,” he said as he presented it back to the beloved singer and actress.

The stunned performer asked “Are you serious?” before she hugged the buyer. The jacket went on display at her cancer center.

Watch the incredible moment below

The pants from the outfit sold separately, and thought to be purchased by Spanx founder Sara Blakely.

The auction was conducted by Julien’s Auctions, as part of the auction house’s Icons & Idols series in Beverly Hills, Calif., and online at

The beloved singer, actress and author, at the time battling stage four breast cancer, auctioned many of her costumes and accessories including iconic items from Grease. The total sale was reported to be $2.4 million. She provided a portion of the auction proceeds to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia.

Related: Our obituary of Newton-John, who passed in 2022

Newton-John did interviews in the days leading up to the auction of hundreds of items from her recording and film career. And she addressed her cancer diagnosis head-on. “I am feeling fantastic,” she said on Oct. 30 during a live appearance on CBS’ The Talk. “I went to the oncologist yesterday and things are shrinking and going away,” as the show’s hosts and studio audience applauded enthusiastically. “So, it’s the perfect week.”

The four-time Grammy Award winner was one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, with a reported 100 million records sold worldwide.

One of the highly anticipated moments of the auction was the sale of her Grease. In the film’s finale number of “You’re the One that I Want,” Sandy (Newton-John) surprises Danny (John Travolta) with her transformation as a demure cheerleader to a sexy greaser girl. (The jacket and pair of figure hugging black shiny high waisted pants were reportedly so tight that Newton-John had to be sewn into them.)

Watch Newton-John and Travolta perform their big duet

A custom “Pink Ladies” jacket presented to Newton-John by the cast and crew of Grease, estimated to sell for between $2,000-$4,000, sold for $50,000.

Newton-John’s 10x Platinum award for the Grease soundtrack sold for $11,520.

A 1975 American Music Award for Favorite Pop Single for “I Honestly Love You,” sold for $16,000.

Her 1975 Volkswagen Super Beetle sold for $68,750.

From the announcement: The Cambridge, England born and Melbourne, Australia raised singer and actress began her music career at the age of 14, when she formed an all-girl group, Sol Four, with her friends. She became a regular on Australian radio and television shows where she performed as “Lovely Livvy” and toured nightclubs in Britain and across Europe with Pat Carroll (now Pat Farrar) as the duo “Pat and Olivia.” Newton-John was also a regular on The Cliff Richard Show.

Newton-John recorded her first single, “Till You Say You’ll Be Mine,” in 1966 and recorded her first solo album in country music, If Not For You, in 1971. Her first hit single, “Let Me Be There,” in 1973 charted the American Top 10 and she earned her first of four Grammys for Best Country Female and an Academy of Country Music award for Most Promising Female Vocalist.

Related: Our 2017 ON-J concert review

Newton-John had another hit with the release of If You Love Me, Let Me Know, with the title track reaching #5. Newton-John became a household name with the release of her next single in 1974, her first #1 single and signature anthem, “I Honestly Love You.” Newton-John won two Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance-Female that year and the album reached #1 on both the sales chart. Newton-John became one of the first artists to successfully cross over and topped both the Pop and Country Albums charts again with her next album, Have You Never Been Mellow, and dominated in the mid-70s with numerous #1 singles including “I Honestly Love You,” “Have You Never Been Mellow,” “Please Mr. Please,” “Something Better to Do,” “Let it Shine/He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” “Come on Over,” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

In 1978, Newton-John would become not just an international movie star but a pop culture icon when she co-starred opposite John Travolta in the high school musical film, Grease. Set in the 1950s, Newton-John played Sandy Olson, a virtuous and demure Australian high school senior and Travolta played Danny Zuko, a tough but tender greaser. Grease became one of the most successful movie musicals of all time. The soundtrack would become one of the best-selling soundtracks, spending 12 weeks at #1, producing three Top 5 singles for Newton-John with the platinum and #1 hit single “You’re the One That I Want” with Travolta, the gold “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” and the gold duet “Summer Nights” with Travolta. Newton-John earned a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actress in a Musical and performed the Oscar-nominated “Hopelessly Devoted to You” at the 1979 Academy Awards.

In her next film, the 1980 cult classic musical, Xanadu, she co-starred with the legendary Gene Kelly, which produced another successful soundtrack that went double platinum and produced three hit singles for Newton-John, her #1 Pop hit single “Magic,” “Suddenly” with Cliff Richard and the title track with the Electric Light Orchestra.

In 1981, Newton-John released her most successful studio album, the double platinum Physical. She broke ground by being the first artist to record a video album for Physical, featuring videos of the album’s tracks which earned her fourth Grammy award.

Her illustrious music career has spawned five number-one and ten other Top Ten Billboard Hot 100 singles with eleven of her singles and 14 of her albums (including two platinum and four double platinum) certified gold by the RIAA. The 2019 release of her memoir, Don’t Stop Believin’, garnered another accolade for Olivia – the title of New York Times best-selling author.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, Newton-John has been a staunch advocate for health awareness which inspired her to help create and become the Founding Champion of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia, a cutting edge facility that provides a comprehensive range of services for cancer treatment, education, training and research including a wellness centre to support the mind, body and spirit (

The auction also included two of her Physical wardrobe pieces: a white ribbed velvet and gold lamé long top and a pair of short shorts worn by the singer on the October 2, 1981 episode of The Merv Griffin Show (estimate: $1,000-$2,000) and her custom made silk satin bodice worn on the cover of the 1982 Physical tour book (estimate: $1,000-$2,000). Costume items from Xanadu are featured including her custom-made cream thigh high suede western boots (estimate: $2,000-$4,000) and a pair of Missoni colorful knit harem pants she wore while singing the title song in the film.

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