The most expensive piece of Beatles memorabilia ever put up for sale has appeared at an exhibit in the UK.

The highlight of "The $11m Dollar Picture Show" is a printer's proof of the famous Beatles banned "butcher cover" from John Lennon's personal collection.

The controversial photo features all four Beatles in butcher's jackets, surrounded by offal and plastic baby dolls.

It includes a handwritten note by Lennon, which reads: "Here's the famous banned butcher cover. You can sell it for $11m dollars."

Reportedly by coincidence, the gallery is asking for $11m for the item - making it the most costly piece of Beatles memorabilia ever according to the organisers.

Take that $11m price tag with a pinch of salt before you go reaching for your wallet - we consider it to be much more of a marketing ploy for the exhibit than a realistic valuation. 

The photo, intended as an album cover, was shot by the legendary Beatles photograph Robert Whitaker, who will be showing some of his rarer images at the expo.

Whitaker's works will include a unique set of limited edition silkscreen prints of each Beatle, "pychedelised" and never shown in public before.

The artist will also be selling the original printers proof for the Beatles '65 album, released in the US, which is also photographed.

Rare Beatles film posters will also be on sale, the original cartoon cells from Yellow Submarine and the official expo poster which has been designed as a limited edition collectors' item.

It is hoped that the exhibit could tour the US if it does well in the UK, said Pete Nash of the British Beatles Fan Club.

The exhibition is being held at the Saint Giles Street Gallery in Norwich, September 10 through to October 24.

The "banned butcher cover" has overtaken John Lennon's custom painted Rolls Royce as the most expensive Beatles memorabilia item.

Six of the 10 most expensive auctioned celebrity memorabilia items in the world are Beatles related according to Worth Magazine, which is distributed to a "select group" of high net worth individuals in the US.

Here are the five most expensive Beatles items in a list recently compiled by Worth Magazine:

#5, John Lennon's talisman necklace

The necklace was worn by Lennon on the cover of his 1968 album with Yoko One, Two Virgins. It was sold to a private collector in 2008 for $528,000.

#4, Gibson SG guitar played by George Harrison and John Lennon

The classic Gibson guitar was played by Harrison on the Beatles' Revolver album, and by Lennon on the White Album. It sold to an anonymous bidder at Christie's for $567,500.

#3, A hand painted Beatles Sgt. Pepper's drum skin

The drum is the centrepiece on the front cover of the band's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. It sold in 2008 for a staggering $1.1m.

#2, John Lennon's Steinway piano

Pop singer George Michael placed the winning bid for the piano on which Lennon wrote his song Imagine, in 2000, for $2.1m.

#1, John Lennon's hand painted Rolls Royce Phantom V

The car was sold by Sotheby's to Canadian businessman Jim Pattison in 1985 for $2.23m.

Lennon had his matt black overall Rolls Royce repainted with 'psychedelic' scrolls and flowers by J.P. Fallon Limited, a coachworks company located in Chertsey, Surrey.

He also had the rear seat modified to convert to a double bed, and installed a custom interior/exterior sound system with a 'loud hailer' along with a Sony television and portable refrigerator.

Beatles fans may wish to know that there are some excellent collectibles relating to the band on the market right now, including a magazine signed by all four members, a letter written by McCartney mentioning songs before the band became famous and a signed sheet of the lyrics to Lady Madonna.

September 7, 2009


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