UPDATE: On Dec. 5, copy 0000001 of The Beatles aka The White Album sold for $790,000 at Julien’s auction, a new world record for a vinyl record at an auction. Early estimates for the item placed its value between $40k-60k, an estimate collector demand easily surpassed.
Dec. 4 Story: Ringo Starr and wife Barbara Bach have been auctioning off a trove of their personal belongings at Julien’s auction house this month, and the ultimate Beatles collector’s item just hit six figures.
Bidding for Ringo’s copy of The Beatles (1968) aka The White Album is up to $100,000 after 11 bids.
Why so much for this particular copy? Simple: This is the first numbered U.K. mono copy of the White Album ever pressed – it’s # 0000001. Each of the Beatles received the first four pressings of their sprawling double LP in the late ’60s, and it was recently revealed that Starr got the first one, which he stored in a London vault for 35 years. “The top load sleeve is in near mint minus condition and would be near mint if not for the bumped upper right front gatefold corner, but it is overall very clean and fresh with very minor abrasions,” reads the description on Julien’s.
Additionally enticing is that this is the mono version of the album. Many Beatlemaniacs say mono is the preferred way to listen to the Fab Four, as the band was usually present for the mono mixing of their albums but not involved in the stereo mixing process.
The While Album, in particular, differs in its mono version from the more commonly available stereo version. Ringo’s “Don’t Pass Me By” appears in sped-up form on the mono version, with additional fiddle playing. Also, the mono version of “Helter Skelter” is noticeably shorter; when the song fades out and then returns on the stereo version, it simply fades out and ends on the mono version. A lot of the sound effects (pig noises, airplane noise) are different on the mono version, too.
Elsewhere in the history of absurdly expensive rare records, an early acetate of the Velvet Underground’s first album once went for more than $150,000 at an auction, although the bid turned out to be fraudulent. It later sold for $25,000.
If you want to spend more than most people’s yearly income on a record, head here.