NEW YORK – The first recording contract ever signed by The Beatles, which put the Fab Four on a path that would change music history, sold for $93,750 during Heritage Auctions’ $1.3+ million weekend Entertainment and Music Memorabilia Auction Sept. 19-20 in New York. The 1961 contract – signed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and original drummer Pete Best – was the top lot from the auction-leading Uwe Blaschke Beatles Collection, which realized more than $409,000 and garnered headlines around the world.
“We may never again see a collection from the Beatles’ formative years in Hamburg, Germany, as complete as the one Uwe Blaschke assembled,” said Dean Harmeyer, Consignment Director for Heritage Auctions. “Clearly the market responded to this vitally important part of Beatles history and we are proud to have served the memory of Uwe Blaschke and his passion for the early story of the Beatles, which is reflected in the outstanding success of the auction.”
The more than 300 lots in the Blaschke collection covers the entire career of the group, but is especially notable for the inclusion of many items related to the time the Beatles spent in Hamburg from 1960-62, performing in the city’s vibrant nightclubs and honing their distinctive sound which would soon win the world over. The historic contract paid the group roughly $20 each for a rock & roll version of “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean,” which led directly to the Beatles being discovered by manager Brian Epstein, through whose efforts the group then secured their unprecedented worldwide success.
The auction was the center of the Beatles collecting universe and collectors sparked bidding wars over key pieces and autographed memorabilia, including a 1966 Sealed First State Stereo “Butcher Cover” of The Beatles Yesterday and Today LP in Gem Mint 10 condition. The controversial cover was one of a very limited number of “first state” albums to survive an immediate recall and eight bidders pushed the auction value to $75,000 against a $20,000 estimate.
A one-of-a-kind Sign From the 1969 Montreal Bed-In For Peace, signed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, also sold for $75,000. From the Blaschke Collection, one of the First-Ever Signed Beatles Records, an autographed, first pressing 45 copy of “Love Me Do / P.S. I Love You” sold for $25,000, against a $10,000 estimate.
A world auction record was set during the Blaschke sale for a photograph by Astrid Kirchherr, who famously captured The Beatles during their time in Hamburg. The iconic image, The Beatles At The Hamburg Fun Fair (Hamburg, 1960), of the group from 1960 sold for $4,750, shattering the previous record of $3,700 from 2013.
The King of Rock and Roll was well represented in the auction as a RIAA Gold Record for Elvis Presley’s 1961 smash hit Can’t Help Falling In Love sold for $27,500 and a Presley Owned and Used 1961 Martin 0-16NY Guitar ended at $22,500. Presley’s Owned and Worn Army Wool Field Shirt and Trousers, circa 1960, sold for $18,750
Additional highlights include, but are not limited to:
· An oil painting by Frank Sinatra, 1991: Realized: $21,250.
· A rare Acetate LP of an Early Version of And Nico by the Velvet Underground: Realized: $18,750.
· A Grateful Dead “Hawaiian Axomoxoa” Concert Poster, 1969: Realized: $16,250.
· An Oversized Signed Black and White Photograph of Marilyn Monroe, circa 1954: Realized; $13,750.
· An unusual set of Signatures by all four members of The Doors on individual playing cards: Realized: $13,750.
· A Rod McKuen Owned and Played Piano (direct from his estate and in used from the 1970s until the poet and songwriter’s death earlier this year): Realized: $12,500.