Beatles Auction in Tokyo Hits Some High Notes but Fails to Break Records

<i> From Reuters</i>

The original birth certificate of Sir Paul McCartney sold for $84,146, but it was a hard day’s night after that on Saturday in the biggest-ever auction of Beatles memorabilia.

In a sale marked by controversy and failure to meet hopes of world-record prices, bidders in Tokyo and London snapped up small mementos of the Fab Four but signaled that the Liverpool Lads’ comeback in pop charts did not extend to the auction circuit.

Items in the Tokyo auction ranged from McCartney’s school math book to John Lennon’s custom-made Mercedes-Benz limousine. The total for all sales came to about $1.3 million.

The memorabilia came from relatives of the Beatles, people who worked with them and collectors eager to cash in on a new wave of Beatle popularity.


McCartney’s certificate, the first of 300 items to go on the block in a five-hour sale, far exceeded the pre-sale estimate of $13,000. The document, put up for sale by a record collector from California, went to an unidentified buyer in London, auction officials said.

The certificate, which records McCartney’s June 18, 1942, birth in Liverpool, England, had first been sold by McCartney’s stepmother after the death of his father.

Julian Lennon, son of slain Beatle John Lennon, bought his father’s black cape and an Afghan coat he wore on the cover of the “Magical Mystery Tour” album sleeve.

Bids for the Steinway piano on which Lennon composed the hit song “Imagine,” expected to fetch up to $500,000, barely reached half that figure. The piano owner, however, bought the run-down Liverpool house where Ringo Starr was born for $21,140.