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Beatles, Andy Warhol dominate online record auctions

This countdown has plenty of headliners: Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Elvis Presley, The Beatles (twice) and Andy Warhol (twice). But what secured the No. 1 spot?

By Susan Sliwicki

This countdown has plenty of headliners: Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Elvis Presley, The Beatles (twice) and Andy Warhol (twice). It only follows that such popular acts will draw a proportionately popular number of bids. But what secured the No. 1 spot? You’ll just have to keep reading.

10. $3,543.91 — July, “July,” LP. The enthusiastic seller of this 1968 U.K. psychedelic gem had plenty of enthusiastic bidders. A whopping 44 bids were exchanged for this Near Mint mono first pressing on the Major Minor Label (which comes complete with the ‘Robert Stace’ cover). For anyone who possibly doubted the record’s rarity, fine condition or importance, the seller did his best to drive the point home by ending virtually every sentence in the listing with five exclamation points, and typing most of the sentences in all caps.

9. $3999.99 — Nirvana, “Love Buzz” b/w “Big Cheese,” 7-inch test pressing. “One of the Holy Grails for the Discerning and Well Heeled Nirvana Fan,” wrote the seller of this 1988 Excellent Minus test pressing on the Sub-Pop label. Believed to be one of 10 original test pressings generated during Sub Pop’s first pressing of the single, this copy has its original plain white sleeve marked SP 23 and a light scuff on the A-side’s vinyl. It had one bidder.

8. $4,050 — Elvis Presley, set of five original Sun singles, 45 RPM. This set of all five of The King’s original 45s released on the Sun label was one of the hottest tickets on this edition’s countdown, drawing 47 bids. “All are guaranteed original. Nearly impossible to find all five listed together. These will never lose value; they will only increase in value as time goes by,” the seller wrote. Included in this lot: Sun 209 (“That’s All Right”/“Blue Moon of Kentucky”), VG/VG+, slight label stain, original radio station Sun sleeve, stamped “sample copy not for resale” and “for radio play only;” Sun 210 (“I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine”/“Good Rockin’ Tonight”), EX-; Sun 215 (“Milkcow Blues Boogie”/“You’re A Heartbreaker”) VG; Sun 217 (“I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone”/“Baby Let’s Play House”) VG; Sun 223 (“Mystery Train”/“I Forgot to Remember to Forget”) VG, radio station inventory sticker on the B side.

7. $5,000 — The Beatles, “Yesterday and Today,” LP cover only. If you care a lot more about the cover than the music, you may have been among those who placed 16 bids on this original First State mono Beatles Butcher Cover that’s in “amazing condition,” according to the seller. No actual grade was given amid the description. The cover still has the wrap on it, and it came with a letter verifying that it was purchased and authenticated from Perry Cox.

6. $5,266 — Ultraviolet, “Ultraviolet,” LP. This is the first of two lots connected to Andy Warhol to make it on to this edition’s countdown, and it takes the countdown honors for most bids per lot (65). No wonder, given that this 1973 record was never released to the public. The seller bought this copy at a used record store nearly 15 years ago to add to his Warhol collection, but he never played it. The cover, which has a punch hole (consistent with other copies that have turned up), is in “nice” condition. “This LP is super rare and a great investment. Sure to increase in value,” the seller wrote.

5. $5,844.09 — Michele Au Clair, Bach sonatas, 2 LPs. This seller’s listing qualifies as the briefest in this countdown. Other than the serial number (DF 209-210), the record label and country (Les Discophiles Francais, France) and the condition (Records EX+, sleeve VG+), here’s the only thing the seller shared: “2 LP set. Very rare in this condition.” The short and sweet description still drew seven bids.

4. $6,601 — Various artists, “Mozart á Paris,” 7-LP set. This box set (DTX 191 to DTX 197) features performances by artists ranging from Perlemutter to Descaves, Doyen, Dumont and Darré, a veritable who’s who among mid-century classical musicians, interpreting the works Mozart composed while in Paris. Grades range from a low of VG+ (light scratches and a few tics) up to EX/EX+. The EX-condition box shows only minor seam wear and light surface scuffs, and the booklet is in nice condition save for a few humidity stains. “Mega rare boxed set just never shows up,” the seller wrote. “Definitely the rarest and most desirable classical music record ever issued in France!”

3. $9,500 — Led Zeppelin, “The Final Option,” limited edition 70-record box set with hard case. When it comes to obtaining one of these box sets — only 150 copies were made — paying an average of roughly $136 per record seems like a pretty good bargain. Add in the facts that this set (No. 40/150) has never been played, it has been stored in the collector’s temperature-controlled vault ever since it was purchased brand new 24 years ago, and it contains record that were hand-pressed from the original plates on heavyweight, virgin black and white splattered vinyl, and it’s no surprise that you’ve got most Led Zeppelin fans’ attention.


2. $9,848.70 — The Beatles, “Please Please Me,” LP. No surprise to find the Fab Four toward the top spot on the countdown. This first pressing, stereo copy on the Parlophone label has all the right stuff: It’s the “Dick James” version, it has just a few marks and surface scratches (none of which affect play), and it comes not only with a beautiful NM cover and original Emitex sleeve, it also has the NEMS plastic bag that came with it, direct from Brian Epstein’s record shop. “This is your one chance to invest in a sure thing,” the seller wrote. Fifty-six bids were exchanged.

1. $10,700 — Various artists, 68 Andy Warhol-themed 7-, 10- and 12-inch record covers. This impressive collection spans from Warhol’s first ever record design (Carlos Chaves, “Program of Mexican Music,” 1949) to the last release he approved before his death (MTV, “High Priority,” 1987). It also features RATFAB, his rarest cover (only 300 made). “Outside of the collection held by the Andy Warhol Museum archive in Pittsburgh, this may be the largest private collection of Andy Warhol covers,” the seller wrote.