Beatles memorabilia, including a letter from George Harrison to the "fifth Beatle," won the highest bids at a rock auction yesterday (Sept. 20) in London, but the Sex Pistols nearly stole the show. Th

Beatles memorabilia, including a letter from George Harrison to the "fifth Beatle," won the highest bids at a rock auction yesterday (Sept. 20) in London, but the Sex Pistols nearly stole the show. The Hard Rock Cafe restaurant chain paid $11,926 for a three-page letter from Harrison to Stuart Sutcliffe, who played bass during the band's formative years and has been called the fifth Beatle. The 1960 letter urged Sutcliffe, who was living in Hamburg, Germany, to return to Liverpool for a series of performances.

"If we get a new bass player for the time being, it will be crumby as he will have to learn everything and it's no good Paul (McCartney) playing bass, we've decided," it reads. Sutcliffe quit the band the next year and died of a brain hemorrhage in April 1962 at the age of 21.

Items from U.K. punk band the Sex Pistols exceeded auction house Sotheby's expectations. An "Anarchy" T-shirt worn by singer Johnny Rotten was purchased for nearly $6,000 by an unidentified telephone bidder. A Sex Pistols concert poster drew $4,430, and a copy of the withdrawn single, "God Save the Queen," sold for $4,089.

The Hard Rock also purchased unpublished photographs of the Beatles for $8,519. The company said it planned to display them in two new Hard Rock hotels. Also auctioned were hotel registration forms for the Beatles and manager Brian Epstein from their stay at a hotel in Stockholm, Sweden. They sold for $14,481.

In related news, Fleetwood Owen, the entertainment auction house founded by Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood and partner Ted Owen, will put up for sale the Stuart Sutcliffe Collection, a group of personal items belonging to the late musician to be sold in its entirety as one lot.

"This collection is full of wonderful things," his sister Pauline Sutcliffe said in a statement, "wonderful artwork, fabulously interesting letters, poetry, sketch books, all delightful and beautiful things to look at."

The lot includes private correspondence between Sutcliffe and the members of the Beatles, his first guitar, and pictures taken of him and his former bandmates by photographer/then-girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr. The collection will be on display in New York next month, and auctioned by sealed bid for 11 days beginning Nov. 27. For more information, visit the official Fleetwood Owen Web site, or contact Auctions@fleetwoodowen.com.


-- AP & Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.




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