The Beatles’ Signed Original Contract Fetches $569,000 at Auction

Is this the most important contract in rock music history?

The Beatles.

Sotheby’s London has sold the Beatles’ original 1962 contract, signed by members of the Fab Four and their manager Brian Epstein, for £365,000 (about $569,000). Paul McCartney and George Harrison’s parents also gave their parental consent, as their sons were not yet 21 at the time.

It was this contract that helped launch the Beatles into international superstardom, and changed the face of popular music. When last auctioned in 2008, the historic document, considered one of the most important contracts in rock and roll history, sold for £240,000 (about $430,000). This year, the estimate was a heftier £300,000–500,000 (roughly $450,000–750,000).

The Beatles signed managerial contract with Brian Epstein, October 1, 1962. Photo: Sotheby's.

The Beatles signed managerial contract with Brian Epstein, October 1, 1962.
Photo: Sotheby’s.

It’s no surprise that Beatles memorabilia is often a hit at auction, from John Lennon’s doodles, manuscriptsletters, and guitar to the wool jacket that Ringo Starr wore in the 1965 film Help!

Today’s Sotheby’s “Rock & Pop” sale also featured a 1955–56 detention sheet detailing John Lennon’s misbehavior as a high school student (on one day alone he was cited for “impertinence,” “groaning at me,” “silly conduct,” and “nuisance in class,” among various other offenses). It sold for £2,500 (about $3,900) on a £2,000–3,000 estimate (about $3,100–4,700).

Other music icons hitting the block included Swedish pop sensation ABBA, with of the band’s Grand Piano, used in almost all of its studio recordings on offer; and a collection of records featuring Andy Warhol’s designs. Both failed to attract a buyer despite respective pre-sale estimates of £600,000–800,000 (about $930,000–1.25 million) and £30,000–50,000 (approximately $50,000–80,000).

Following this past year’s record-breaking sale of the signed manuscript of Bob Dylan‘s “Like a Rolling Stone,” now the most expensive set of lyrics ever to come to auction, Sotheby’s had high hopes a revised typewritten draft of the singer-songwriter’s “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.” While it was never going to match the $2.045 million record, the manuscript, which carried a £150,000–200,000 (about $234,000–310,000) estimate, also went unsold.

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