A factory-sealed First State copy of The Beatles' famously banned "Butcher Cover" mono LP , Yesterday and Today, without a doubt the Holy Grail of vinyl, is expected to bring $30,000+ when it comes up as part of Heritage Auctions February 18-19 Signature Music & Entertainment Auction.
John Lennon himself once referred to a printer's proof of the banned cover with the suggestion that "You can sell it for $11m". Whilst that estimate should not be taken too seriously, the cover is certainly the item that many Beatles collectors would like above all else.
"There are likely less than 25 sealed copies of this record in existence," said Garry Shrum, Consignment Director for Music & Entertainment Auctions at Heritage, "and that's probably a generous estimate.
"More than that, we've never seen a copy in such great condition, and we sold a 'Livingston Copy' of the 'Butcher Cover' in 2006 for more than $38,000. That price is, to date, the highest amount ever realized for a piece of wide release, non-autographed vinyl. This may well exceed that."
Many serious collectors of Fab Four memorabilia have diligently searched for even a tattered copy of this rarity, which was pulled from record store shelves in the US almost immediately after its release in 1966, ordered to be destroyed and replaced by the more subdued "Trunk Cover" version.
Millions bought the second version, but few managed a copy of the infamous original, let alone one that remained sealed. Given the enduring interest in The Beatles, this should make an excellent investment.
"This 'Butcher Cover' is rare enough in and of itself in good condition," said Shrum, "but to have it sealed is mind-boggling. Who has ever bought a Beatles record and not opened it?"
An intriguing and rare single-owner set of Beatles autographs from August 23, 1964, obtained by an Air France employee when the band arrived in Los Angeles from London for their August 23 concert at the Hollywood Bowl is expected to bring $10,000+ when it comes on the block.
Autographs by the entire band, on a single sheet, are highly sought-after as the band, by 1964, was not signing many autographs at all, and had stopped signing autographs altogether by 1969.
"I was working for Air France and found myself in the US immigration office, where I was delivering the general declaration," he wrote.
"I was surprised to be suddenly asked by an immigration officer to quickly enter one of the offices for my protection, due to the invasion of enthusiastic Beatles fans. In those days, not much security was in place and a crowd of people had penetrated the area.
"The immigration officers... probably thought I was accompanying the Beatles. So I was stuck with them and we spent 20 minutes, just the five of us, in the small office waiting for the crowd to be sent away. We talked about their upcoming concert at the Hollywood Bowl, and I figured I might as well ask them for the autographs, which they graciously gave to me."