Beatles memorabilia up for grabs

More than 800 items owned by Ringo Starr and his wife Barbara Bach will go under the hammer on December 4 and 5 at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, California.

More than 800 items owned by Ringo Starr and his wife Barbara Bach will go on sale at auction in December.

They include rare Beatles memorabilia such as a three-piece drum kit he used in more than 200 performances, and a Rickenbacker guitar known as the “Beatle-Backer” that John Lennon gave to him.

The unprecedented number of Beatles artefacts will go under the hammer on December 4 and 5 at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, California.

“We have so much stuff and a lot of it we haven’t seen in 20 to 30 years,” says Starr, 75.

The idea for the auction came after The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles asked to do an exhibition about Starr’s life and music.

“It started with me looking at storage units we have all around the world ... we found we had so much stuff,” he says.

Then another project – an upcoming book and exhibition, now running at London’s National Portrait Gallery, of photographs Starr took of his former bandmates – turned up “boxes of negatives from the 1960s onward”, he says.

The couple also sold their country house in England and closed down an apartment in Monte Carlo.

“We thought, what are we going to do with all this stuff?” he says. So they contacted Julien’s Auctions.

"Beside the dinner services and glasses, I thought I will make it very special ... I'm also putting in The White Album [with the serial number 1] which I had in a bank vault for the past 35 years" and several guitars, including a Gretsch that was a gift from George Harrison and the Lennon Rickenbacker, he said.

“Besides that you have furniture, artwork and cups and saucers” from the couple’s homes in London, Beverly Hills and Monaco, says Starr, who is about to head off on a month-long tour of North America with his All-Starr Band.

As with his book, Photograph by Ringo Starr, which will be published tomorrow, a portion of the proceeds from the auction will go to the couple's Lotus Children Foundation that focuses on social welfare issues around the world.

“We’re fed up with having the stuff in storage when it could be put to some good use and also give a lot of people joy,” he says.

The couple, who have been married for 34 years, say they decided together which items to sell, an effort that was wrought with emotion and nostalgia.

After first deciding to let go of certain items, “we’d take them back”, said Bach, 69, a former model and actress. “But then we’d say: ‘Where are we going to put it?’ and realised it would have to go back in storage, so we said: ‘OK, let’s put it back in the auction.’”

* Associated Press

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Highlights from the auction will be on display for a week at The Hard Rock Cafe in New York’s Times Square from November 16. They also will be shown at the Museum of Style Icons in Ireland and at Julien’s ahead of the sale.

Julien’s expects the total raised by the sale to be between US$5 million (Dh18m) to $10 million. “It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says auctioneer Darren Julien. “Ringo will never do this again. They are the only items he is letting go.”

• Ringo’s first drum kit, a 1963 Ludwig Oyster black pearl three-piece (below) that he used in more than 200 performances and recordings between May 1963 and February 1964, including hits such as Can’t Buy Me Love and All My Loving. Paul McCartney also used the set on his first solo album, McCartney.

Expected sale price: $300,000-$500,000

• John Lennon’s 1964 Rose-Morris Rickenbacker (left) guitar with a fire-glo sunburst finish that he played during The Beatles’ 1964-1965 Christmas shows. He gave the guitar, known as the “Beatle-Backer”, to Starr as a gift in 1968.

Expected sale price: $600,000-$800,000

• A 2000 Mercedes Coupe, previously owned by Harrison and acquired by Starr after the Beatles’ guitarist died in 2001.

Expected sale price: $60,000-$80,000

• A seven-tom drum kit inspired by drummer Hal Blaine and commissioned for Ringo by Harrison in 1968. Only five sets of the custom kits are known to exist.

Expected sale price: $10,000-$20,000.

* Associated Press