Darren Julien has handled estate and memorabilia sales for the likes of Cher, Barbra Streisand, U2 — even the staggering Neverland Ranch/Michael Jackson auction that required five catalogs.
Yet, even the founder of Beverly Hills’ venerable Julien’s Auctions is impressed with next week’s Ringo Starr/Barbara Bach event. “Well, first of all, it has to be said: It’s a Beatle!” he says with a chuckle. “But what’s really great is that Ringo and Barbara’s collecting is so eclectic. There are 1,300 lots, it’s a massive auction, but, the items are so varied that there’s honestly something for everyone.”
Taking place Dec. 3 through 5, with public preview beginning Monday, the sale includes a wide array of items, including art, antiques, furniture, jewelry, personal items, several musical instruments and more mundane (read: affordable) things like ashtrays and office furniture.
“We started the process three years ago after I’d done an appraisal for some of Ringo’s drum kits that he was going to put on display at the Grammy Museum,” says Julien. “Barbara said they were ready to start downsizing and they wanted a creative way to do that and raise money for their charity, the Lotus Foundation.”
The Julien’s team carefully sifted through the couple’s apartment in Monaco and their sprawling 200-acre Jacobean estate in the English countryside — both of which have since been sold — to find inventory. Highlights include several Art Deco lighting fixtures and mirrors, an Empire dining suite and a Gothic Revival bookcase; artworks by Damien Hirst, Jean Cocteau and Roy Lichtenstein; and personal and tour clothing by Versace, Prada and Stella McCartney.
Says Julien, “It’s been an extremely emotional process for both Ringo and Barbara, especially because they’re such private people. They want to preserve the history, of course, but at what point do you just have too much stuff? It becomes a problem for most of us.”
For Fab Four fans, there are also nearly 100 Beatle-related items on the block (Yellow Submarine jukebox, anyone?), plus several of the former Richard Starkey’s drum kits. “The [Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl] was the one he used for every early concert before the Beatles came to America,” says Julien. “It will definitely go for a very high price.” A first pressing of the band’s 1968 White Album, stamped No. 0000001, is expected to fetch as much as $60,000.
Several of the auction’s most interesting objects have ties to other band members, like a Mercedes that Ringo bought from George Harrison, and a Victorian stone garden bench that John Lennon and Yoko Ono left behind when Ringo bought one of their homes.
“To me, the most interesting items are the ones that have unique stories to them,” says Julien. “For example, there’s a fantastic old photo of all the Beatles that we pulled out of Ringo’s mother’s scrapbook. Everyone had signed it except for Ringo, so we asked him to sign it. As he’s doing it, he laughed and told us ‘My mom hadn’t wanted to ask me to sign it!’”
Although estimated bids start around a reasonable $100, don’t count on being able to snag a tiny treasure from the auction. “We’re estimating between $4 million and $6 million total, but I anticipate that it will go a lot higher,” says Julien. “The estimates are conservative, which will get people excited to bid, but it really reflects how down to earth Ringo and Barbara are. Celebrities usually think their things are worth way more money than they are, so it was refreshing to discover two people who actually are rock 'n' roll royalty who don’t have an overinflated view of themselves.”
Free public preview Monday through Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Julien's Auctions Beverly Hills, 9665 Wilshire Blvd. You can register to bid and watch the auctions live online. Inquiries accepted via email, or call (310) 836-1818.