London, March 23: A rare, one-off demonstration record that launched the career of the British pop band, The Beatles, fetched $110,180 at an auction Tuesday after attracting world wide interest. Bidders from China, Europe and North America tried to outbid each other with phone and in-line bids for the star lot at the Omega Auction house in Warrington, Northern England, Xinhua reported.
The auctioneers had place a reserve of 10,000 pounds ($14,207) on the record found in a house near Liverpool after being locked away, wrapped in paper, for more than 50 years. But a collector from the North West of England became the new owner with a final bid of 77,550 pounds ($110,225). The demo disc, with a hand-written label, features “Hello Little Girl and Till There Was You” and was cut in 1962 on a 78 rpm acetate disc in the personal recording department of HMV music store in London’s Oxford Street.
Since then, it has remained forgotten at the home of Les Maguire, a musician from rival Liverpool band of the 1960s, Gerry and the Pacemakers. Maguire said the record, with a label handwritten by the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, could be seen as the record “that sparked The Beatles’ success.” The record, labeled as being the work of Paul McCartney, John Lennon and The Beatles, was made at the HMV store and then handed to George Martin, the future Beatles producer, to help win a recording contract with the EMI record label. Martin died just a few weeks ago, leading to tributes from the two surging Beatles, McCartney and drummer Ringo Starr.
Maguire, now 74, was given the disc by Epstein in 1963 after it had been returned to him by Martin. He described the record as a “one off”. After re-discovering the rare record in his attic, he gave it to his granddaughter who plans to put the proceeds from its sale towards buying a house. “It is no good to me so I have given it to my granddaughter, who is hoping to buy a house after passing her accountancy exams. I hope it goes for a good price,” said Maguire ahead of the sale.
Leading Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn said of the disc: “Its uniqueness is enhanced by Brian Epstein’s handwriting on the labels, and the recognition of what it led to, making it one of the rarest and most collectable of all Beatles records.” Ian Shirley, record collector and rare record price guide editor, said, “This is one of those Holy Grail items. This acetate is a unique item that, in many respects, helped Brian Epstein to start the ball rolling to musical world domination. It will fascinate Beatles collectors worldwide and no doubt attract bids from those with deep pockets.”
Auction director Karen Fairweather told Xinhua: “The record has been on display at the Beatles Story Museum in a Liverpool and the purchaser may leave it on display there for a while. We had people from the museum here at today’s sale.” “Altogether we had more than 200 lots of Beatles memorabilia and many went for more than 10 times the estimated prices. It shows the international interest there is in the Beatles,” she added.