'Quiet Beatle' Harrison could make a big noise in 2011's collectibles markets

It may sound morbid to some, but death has a way of increasing the values of celebrity autographs. Since his untimely death in 2008, what is sometimes referred to as "the James Dean effect" has seen Heath Ledger's signature value increase by 367%.

Which brings us to George Harrison. Since his death from cancer in 2001 aged just 58, "the quiet Beatle's" legacy has gone from strength-to-strength in the collectibles markets. Harrison offers a great example of how a celebrity's legacy is revised after his death.

Following Harrison's death, pop musicians and his contemporaries lined up to pay tribute while his songs like Here Comes the Sun, While My Guitar Gently Weeps and My Sweet Lord confirmed that he was more than just a sideman to Lennon and McCartney.

Harrison waves to fans in the US
during the height of Beatlemania

Outside of music, Harrison worked as a producer with people as diverse as Monty Python and Madonna; while his autobiography I Me Mine, published in 1980 (the only full autobiography by an ex-Beatle) said little about The Fab Four. It instead focussed on Harrison's solo songs, and his love of gardening and Formula One.

In fact, Harrison's love of cars would inspire one of his most significant posthumous auction appearances. His legendary Aston Martin DB5, the first important car he ever owned, sold for more than $464,000 in London above its $250,000-300,000 estimate in 2007.

Meanwhile, signed Harrison photographs have shot up in value over the past decade, on average by 1053.8%. This places the value of a Harrison autograph bought for £195 in the year 2000 at closer to 2,250 today (according to the industry's PFC40 Autographs Index).

And, although he plays it down in I Me Mine, Harrison was still one fourth of the world's most important rock 'n' roll band. Consequently, his hands have touched some of the most exclusive collectibles of all time...

A chart compiled by Worth magazine - which, as the name implies,  is a publication for high net worth individuals - named George Harrison's Gibson SG guitar as the #8 most valuable piece of celebrity memorabilia of all time (notably ahead of Jimi Hendrix's guitar at #10). It was sold to a private collectible for $567,500 in 2004.

Elsewhere are the autographs bearing George's signature alongside John, Paul and Ringo's. Thanks to finite supply and growing demand, Beatles group autographs are accruing value year on year.

Three Beatles, one autograph: Harrison, McCartney and Lennon's autographs signed for a fan in 1963 are currently for sale on the private market


Examples currently for sale on the markets include two pages from an autograph album signed by each of The Beatles in black fountain pen. Dedicated to "Helen", among the signatures is the message: "love from George Harrison xxxx."

Harrison signed the piece during the height of Beatlemania, in 1963. Consequently, the piece is valued at £9,950. Considering the growing value of Harrison's collectibles, it could be worth significantly more in future years.

So what's in store for the future of Harrison's legacy? Well, while the Fab Four enjoy posthumous success to the tune of two million downloaded music sales - which, as we reported, could bring new opportunities for collectors - George's memory is also being looked after.

Living in the Material World: George Harrison, a documentary by the legendary director and film poster collector Martin Scorsese is set for release in 2011.

It seems likely that the release of Scorsese's film release with coincide with the tenth anniversary of Harrison's death - an occasion which is likely to further boost the value of his collectibles, and lead to increased appearance at auction (as has happened following the reissuing of John Lennon's back catalogue this year).


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