The Pop Mark-Up

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 6 2009 4:52 PM

The Pop Mark-Up

For the Bruce Springsteen fan who has everything: The Long Branch, N.J., home where the Boss wrote "Born to Run" is for sale . (You can read about the birth of that seminal record here .) It's small (828 square feet) and rather run-down looking, but the asking price is a cool $299,000, about $50,000 more than comparable houses in the neighborhood. That means the famous musician's mere presence nearly 35 years ago adds about 20 percent to its value.

This isn't the first instance of pop culture inflating real estate prices. In 1988, Bob Dylan's childhood home in the northern Minnesota town of Hibbing was up for sale at $84,000 , a whole lot more than the appraised value of $46,000. (Relatedly, Dylan may have been looking at the Springsteen house —yes, the same one—when he was detained by police this summer and has recently visited John Lennon's childhood home , as well as Neil Young's .)

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And over in San Francisco, the house that hosted the Party of Five is about to be listed . No word yet on the asking price, but it went for $5.4 million in 1999, well above market value. Just around the corner, the house where Arnold Schwarzenegger got knocked up in Junior is also on the market —and went for $55,000 more than asking price last time it was listed, in 2007.

I wonder how the poor New Jersey guy who drops $300,000 for the privilege of walking on the boss's floor will explain the purchase to his wife. "Honey, you don't understand! Springsteen wrote 'Born to Run' surrounded by these very walls! It's like we're living in the song!" But as memorabilia go, at least it's bolder than a T-shirt or a poster .