Madonna's 'more popular' than The Beatles - but who has the most valuable memorabilia?

Madonna is more popular than The Beatles, according to new research by PPL, the company which licenses recorded music and music videos for public performance and broadcast.

PPL compiled the research for BBC Radio Two, placing the Queen of Pop at #1 on a list of performers with the most airplay and public performances from 2000-2009.

The Beatles are just behind her, at #2, and one place ahead of former Take That star Robbie Williams.

Elvis Presley is right back at #8 while the Rolling Stones - no strangers to record-breaking enormous gigs - are at #19, one place behind the UK's Girls Aloud.

The research might demonstrate that Madonna and her music are 'getting put out there' more than The Beatles, but who rules the roost in terms of memorabilia - Madge or the Fab Four?

Signed or handwritten lyrics

Hand written lyrics from musicians are one of the Holy Grails of collectibles.

The Beatle's Lady Madonna was written by Sir Paul McCartney and recorded at Abbey Road Studios in February 1968, prior to the group's famous spiritual trip to India.

Intended as a "bluesy boogie-woogie thing" (in the words of McCartney) inspired by Fats Domino, a signed off-white print from a Beatles lyrics book is currently available on the collectors' market.

Neatly autographed across the top by McCartney himself, the 5 x 7 inches lyrics sheet is priced £3,950 ($6,525).

But how about handwritten lyrics penned by pop's own Lady Madonna?  

The written words for Cry Baby, a hit from Madge's I'm Breathless album released in 1990, reads: "He acts like his doggy just died... He's just a Cry Baby Guy."

Madonna has drawn a box around the last three words, "Cry Baby Guy". The sheet is priced £4,950 ($8,170).

Winner: Madonna

Famous items of clothing

Julien's Auctions has had a number of high profile music memorabilia items in its saleroom; among them a DA Milling designed jacket and pants.

Worn by Beatles legend John Lennon in the group's iconic film, A Hard Day's Night, the suit eventually brought $12,800.

Meanwhile, Madonna has had a few 'iconic' moments of her own - including her video for the 1985 single Material Girl.

The dress she wore in it is today regarded as the single most important Madonna outfit, and is among the most important costumes of the '80s pop era.

The historic, one-of-a-kind dress last year emerged on the collectors' market priced £65,000 ($107,250). The seller later withdrew the dress from the market, for inclusion in a travelling Madonna exhibition.

Winner: Madonna

'Personal' memorabilia

One of the more exceptional personal Beatles memorabilia items is a letter written and signed by Paul McCartney to a female friend while recording The Beatles' historic debut LP, Please Please Me.

To Liz, he writes: "Thanks for your letter... how were your exam results??? I hope you passed everything with flying colours."

"Well, 'Taste of Honey' is on the L.P., also 'Chains', 'Anna', and quite a few of our own compositions. (cough cough)..."

The "compositions" which McCartney self-deprecatingly alludes to in his letter later emerged as Love Me Do and I Saw Her Standing There, two of the best-known tunes of their era.

Signed and one-of-a-kind, this letter is currently held by Paul Fraser Collectibles and for sale to collectors priced £8,500 ($14,025).

Elsewhere, erotic phone messages left by Madonna for an ex-boyfriend appeared in an online rock 'n' roll auction. The two microcassettes featuring 17 minutes of erotic messages left for a boyfriend, 20 years ago, were put up for auction in New York.

The lot also included a very personal and intimate video and 21 faxes that were exchanged by Madonna and her bodyguard-turned-boyfriend Jim Albright between 1992 and 1994.

Expected to fetch $40,000 as part of a large online rock 'n' roll auction, but despite widespread publicity the lot was apparently left unsold.

Winner: The Beatles

So, the above sales show that Madonna has regularly trumped The Beatles in terms of value.

Yet, although our light-hearted comparison puts Madonna ahead of the Fab Four, PPL's findings show that both artists' memorabilia remains highly collectible - and a great investment.

Also, Sir Paul McCartney remains the world's third most valuable living person's autograph, while Madonna is at number eight (you can see the World's 10 Most Valuable Autographs here).

That the music of The Beatles and Madonna remains the most played will ensure that their respective legacies continue to live on an thrive for future generations - while the values of their memorabilia and autographs continue to grow.



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