Serge Gainsbourg autographed lyrics help Sotheby's take Paris by storm

As the famous line goes, we'll always have Paris...

Sotheby's announcement that it is moving its photography sales from London to Paris, also its 20th-century decorative art and design sales, follows an increase of 78% in the international auctioneer's sales throughout 2010.

Wednesday (November 9) saw Sotheby's take the French capital by storm with a series of manuscripts and autographs which were sure to beguile locale buyers: each relating to the singer-songwriter and French national treasure Serge Gainsbourg.

And beguiled they were, with several lots smashing their estimates...

Among these were autographed original lyrics to Gainsbourg's song You're Under Arrest. Dated to New York, 1987, the sheet includes many corrections, erasures and unusual variants offering fan's unprecedented insight into the artist's songwriting process.

In the end, collectors couldn't resist and pushed the manuscripts value way beyond its €7,000 estimate to bring €21,150.



Gainsbourg's handwritten lyrics to You're Under Arrest (top) smashed
their estimate; while (bottom) his letters to his butler also proved
irresistable to bidders

On an even more personal note was one of the letters written by Gainsbourg to his butler, Fulbert Ribeaut, many of which were later published for the valuable insight the offer into "the man behind the artist."

This letter, on 297 x 210mm paper, was penned in black ink on Hotel Raphael-headed paper, dated March 15, 1988 and is signed simply "S".

Carrying an estimate of just €800, the letter went on to sell for €7,500. Sotheby's decision to move to Paris clearly paid off...

These results are also testament to the fascination original handwritten lyrics and letters continue to hold among the world's collectors.

High-profile sales in recent times include an original copy of John Lennon's handwritten lyrics to "A Day in The Life". They sold for $1.2 million at a Sotheby's New York auction in June 2010, and would likely be worth even more today.

The rarer the lyrics, and better their quality, the more valuable they are likely to be - especially if the signer is deceased and has historical significance, like Gainsbourg and Lennon.

Paul Fraser Collectibles is offering these ultra-rare handwritten lyrics by 'The Fifth Beatle' Stuart Sutcliffe for sale - they are priced at £15,000 

We also have these lyrics written by Mick Jagger - of particular interest to collectors because this song have never been published (click here to find out more)


Examples we've come across here at Paul Fraser Collectibles include this lyric sheet written by John Lennon's former band mate Stuart Sutcliffe, entitled "Hippy Shake". These lyrics offer a piece of The Beatles' crucial early days as a five piece, before Sutcliffe's untimely death.

Or, if the writer is still alive then perhaps the song itself is rare. As is the case with these handwritten lyrics by the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger.

As this song is unpublished, very few people have seen these lyrics - making this a very rare chance to own handwritten lyrics to an unpublished song by Mick Jagger.

Other blockbuster lyric sales on the markets include Bob Dylan's handwritten lyrics to The Times They Are A-Changin, sold for $422,500 in 2010, and the lyrics for the Fab Four's All You Need is Love, sold for $1.25 million in 2005.

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