Why The Beatles' Records Are the Auction World's MVPs (Think a $790,000 Price Tag)

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The Beatles photographed in 1965.

Collectors are in a state of Beatlemania, according to Jeff Gold, the leading expert on rare LPs who weighs in on the priciest ones ever auctioned.

Rare records and music memorabilia expert Jeff Gold, who has been collecting for 44 years and has sold artifacts to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame through his Recordmecca company, says vinyl is undergoing a massive renaissance. “When it comes to first-pressing records in really beautiful conditions, supply is very much outstripped by demand. It’s like prime real estate or other collectible fields. We’re talking about the best of the best here. I wouldn’t suggest someone go out and spend those kinds of numbers on, say, a Justin Timberlake record right now. The Beatles and Elvis have proved their durability.”

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1. The Beatles' The Beatles: $790,000
Ringo Starr auctioned off his personal copy, numbered 0000001, in December 2015 for $790,000. “I helped catalogue that record -- I held it in my hot little hands,” explains Gold. “Typically, collectors want a first pressing of a record, it’s exactly analogous to first-edition books. The Beatles are the most collectible group there is, and there’s only one Number One White Album. The fact that it came from one of The Beatles exponentially raised the value, and it was in exceptional condition, and had a promotional label -- it was a perfect storm. It sold for a very good price and is only going to increase in value.”


2. Elvis Presley's “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” acetate: $300,000
Jack White purchased the 1953 10-inch acetate via auction for $300,000 in Jan 2015, and re-released it on his Third Man Records on Record Store Day last year. Recorded long before he was christened The King, this was the debut recording of an 18-year-old Presley.

“It’s another Holy Grail unique record. He’s arguably one of most important artists of all time, this was his first recording, and there are no other copies," says Gold. "It’s a legendary thing, whose whereabouts were not widely known until it went up for sale.”


3. The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, signed by each band member: $290,500
A fully signed copy sold for $290,500 (£190,000) in 2013 via Heritage Auctions. The Beatles autographs alone are very valuable -- 90 percent of the autographs out there are fakes, notes Gold. An authentic, autographed copy of the Beatles first album in pristine condition can fetch $40,000, says Gold. This one went for over seven times that. Why? By the time Sgt. Pepper’s came out in 1967, almost nobody could get near the full band, let alone with a record and marker in hand. “It’s an extremely clean copy of the Beatles album that everybody wants signed, signed -- it’s almost a mythical beast.”

 

A version of this story originally appeared in the April 16 issue of Billboard.