Thursday, 14 August 2008

Beatles first contract expected to make £250,000 at London Auction

The Beatles' first fully signed contract with manager Brian Epstein is expected to raise £250,000 when it comes up for auction in London in September.

Epstein's personal copy of the historic document will be included in auctioneer The Fame Bureau's Sept. 4 sale of rock and pop memorabilia at the Idea Generation Gallery in east London, said an e-mailed statement issued on behalf of the specialist auction house.

The contract, which entitled the manager to 25 percent of the band's gross earnings, was signed by Epstein on Oct. 1, 1962, after he secured the Beatles' first record agreement with EMI.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (under his birth name Richard Starkey) had signed the contract earlier that year, on Jan. 24, 1962; Epstein withheld his signature until he had clinched their first deal. The fathers of Harrison and McCartney were also signatories, as their sons were under 21 at the time, said the statement.

``This is the most important pop music document that's left in private hands,'' said Ted Owen, managing director of The Fame Bureau, in a phone interview. ``It's a life-changing contract for the Beatles.''

The contract has been put up for sale by a businessman from northern England who collects pop memorabilia, said Owen. It last came up for auction at Christie's, London, in May 2004, when it fetched £122,850 with saleroom fees.

The Fame Bureau auction will also include the Bechstein piano used by the Beatles to record ``Hey Jude,'' estimated at between £300,00 and £400,000.

In October 2000, at a joint New York and London auction organized by Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood and Ted Owen, singer George Michael paid £1.67 million with fees for the piano on which Lennon wrote ``Imagine.''

In 1985, Sotheby's sold Lennon's hand-painted Rolls-Royce Phantom V for $2.3 million.
A 1965 Fender Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix set alight at the Finsbury Astoria theater in London in March 1967 is estimated at £500,000. According to The Fame Bureau, this was the first guitar that Hendrix set fire to during a live performance

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