Fan Strikes Beatles Gold In Australia

A long-hidden cache of Beatles memorabilia, including nearly priceless studio tapes of the Fab Four, was discovered by chance by a United Kingdom native on vacation in Australia.

A long-hidden cache of Beatles memorabilia, including nearly priceless studio tapes of the Fab Four, was discovered by chance by a United Kingdom native on vacation in Australia. Experts say the value of the find, purchased at a flea market, is already likely to run into tens of thousands of pounds.

But if the tapes, which recording experts have yet to examine, turn out to be unheard recordings of the group, the value is likely to be truly phenomenal. The tapes are in sealed containers indicating they come from the Abbey Road studios where the Beatles recorded. They are marked "not for use."

Kent native Fraser Claughton stumbled on the find by chance when he made a last-minute trip to Australia to attend a friend's 50th birthday party. Beyond the recordings, he obtained hundreds of photographs taken of the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania, along with a mountain of documentation relating to their recordings. Some of the items bear original signatures of group members.

Fraser made the discovery, which he describes as "finding the end of the rainbow in Australia," while he was hunting for a cheap suitcase. "Now I've been told that to collectors the photographs, books, magazines and documents alone are worth a fortune," he says. "The documents in the main are recording sheets for some of the best-known Beatles hits. And the tapes, if they turn out to be unheard material, could be almost priceless."

Fraser is planning to sell the material in individual lots via the Internet.