RR Auction, an auctioneer headquartered in Boston’s North End, is currently holding a Marvels of Modern Music auction — a dream auction for rock music memorabilia collectors, especially collectors interested in The Beatles. For instance, this particular auction has a Beatles sales document for '3 Savile Row' under the hammer (estimate: $80,000+). It is likely one of the final fully-signed Beatles documents by all four members (see below).
“This document was formally adopted in late November of 1980, thus making it one of the last documents signed by John Lennon during his life,” said Frank Caiazzo, a noted Beatles expert in a letter of authenticity that accompanies the sale. “John Lennon signed in black felt tip pen, and has added a facial caricature, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (who has signed as R. Starkey, his legal name as required on documents), have all signed in blue ballpoint,” added Caiazzo.
But there's also a Beatles ‘Sgt. Peppers’ album signed by McCartney, Harrison, and Starr (estimate: $20,000+) and a signed ‘Love Me Do’ 45 rpm — first pressing of their debut single — signed at the Cavern Club in 1962 (estimate: $25,000+). Memorabilia ranges from great Jimi Hendrix finds and even Tupac Shakur’s 1996 American Motors Hummer H1 (estimate: $100,000+). Yes, the actual vehicle.
Robert Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction, answered a few quick questions regarding the current auction.
Music memorabilia auctioneers have often commented that there’s The Beatles and Elvis and then there’s everyone else. Does that still hold true?
ROBERT LIVINGSTON: Need to add Jimi Hendrix to that list ... and interest in punk has been rising.
Do you think the popularity of Elvis has gone down a notch? Whereas The Beatles seem as popular with every coming generation, which is quite amazing.
LIVINGSTON: Elvis has been declining recently .. I believe this to be related to the generations of collectors now in the marketplace who never saw him play. Beatles are getting stronger as those who were very young (with) them now have disposable income.
Are you surprised that more Beatles fans did not keep the many different collectibles that were available from the Beatlemania days (for instance, bobble heads or even more obscure items like this auction’s powder tins)?
LIVINGSTON: “Collectors” are certainly a different breed from fans, and so many things fall into the hands of a “little brother,” etc
In your opinion, was there a period in time where it was harder for fans to get autographs from The Beatles?
LIVINGSTON: The Beatles were inaccessible to fans after late 1963 because of the mania.
Besides The Beatles which artist’s autograph is most sought after?
LIVINGSTON: Dylan, Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Cobain.
Talk about the Jim Morrison photo (at left) and what makes it so valuable.
LIVINGSTON: Morrison is nearly impossible to find anywhere on any medium let alone a “single” signed photo. It’s a classic pose on a rare vintage Doors promo card.
Does the tragic death of a rock star make memorabilia more valuable? Is that a mainstream assumption? Or does it depend?
LIVINGSTON: It depends. When it is a true icon, certainly, see those above ... Others, not typically.
Have you noticed an uptick in musical gear — more valuable, more sought after?
LIVINGSTON: We have been getting great prices for the Ramones gear. Bona fide stage-used gear equipment has been increasing in value.
Which auction item will draw the most interest in the end?
Tupac's Hummer has resonated greatly with the public.
Do you have a favorite auction lot, and why?
LIVINGSTON: I think the Jimi Hendrix letter (below), where he tries to pick up a girl who he thinks is “out of sight.”
The Marvels of Modern Music auction from RR Auction will feature more than 500 items. Bidding began on May 12 and concludes on May 19. More details can be found online at www.rrauction.com.