Even four lavishly illustrated volumes in an elegant slipcase fall short of rivaling the unabashed pop materialism of Elton John. Yet we cannot say this package doesn’t try: indeed, the logo stamped on the back cover of each volume — the words “Elton John” printed above a circumscribed boater and a pair of eyeglasses, and the words “Sotheby’s / founded 1744” printed below — is the scary imprimatur of a brave new world of unthinking hyperconsumerism. Inside, for the serious collector, almost every lot in the sale is individually illustrated, and accompanied by a “scholarly” catalogue entry. (Special extravaganzas include a shot of John’s squash court as display site for the rock star’s purchasing prowess, the evidence including a suite of Bugatti furniture, a pinball machine, an Erté screenprint of the Three Graces, and a lithograph of Sarah Bernhardt as Joan of Arc, and four ceramic Minnie Mouses; as well as a shot of Mr. John himself lounging amid Tiffany frames and lamps, bronze and ivory figurines, and an electroplated muffin dish and cover.) And each volume opens with three essays: a fabulously banal transcription of the photographic session for the catalogue’s covers; a “conversation” in which John Culme, who wrote the notorious introduction for the catalogue of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels, asks Elton’s pal Paul Gambaccini about his famous friend, and the inevitable introduction by Sotheby’s chairman, Lord Gowrie. Elton is quoted in the transcript, “If I see something I like, I just buy it”; Gambaccini adds that “once [Elton] had bought [something] the thrill was over… what was the point in having [it] anymore?”; but Lord Gowrie reassures, “It is clear that Elton the Collector will start again,” suggesting, as does the pop star himself, that Sotheby’s auction will help underwrite impending years of purchase. For true glamour, this catalogue tells us, as the Warhol catalogue told us, Buy not to have, but simply to buy. There is no suggestion that could better serve the ends of an institution like Sotheby’s, founded 1744.