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Brian Epstein, Beatles contract sells for $550,000

Anonymous buyer at Sotheby’s auction purchases 1962 agreement between the Fab Four and their Jewish manager

Brian Epstein (left) with The Beatles on tour in 1964. (AP Photo)
Brian Epstein (left) with The Beatles on tour in 1964. (AP Photo)

The contract between the most famous pop band in history and their Jewish manager was sold at auction in London for 365,000 British pounds, or over $550,000, according to the Daily Mail.

An anonymous buyer snatched the agreement between Brian Epstein and the four Beatles signed in October 1962, along with the fathers of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, as both were under the age of 21 at the time. The contract agrees to “appoint the Manager to act as such Manager throughout the world … for a period of 5 years from the 1st day of October 1962.”

According to the Sotheby’s listing, “This was the only management contract signed between [t]he Beatles and Epstein after the band attained its final line-up, and was signed just before the release of their first single which launched the band on the most incredible journey in pop music history.”

Epstein discovered the band in 1961, when he was running the record department of his father’s Liverpool music store, North End Music Stores. He was described by Paul McCartney as “the fifth Beatle” and widely regarded as the man who led them to stardom — and his death marked the beginning of their demise.

The Sothey’s website notes that, “Without this contract, and the relationship it represents, it seems inconceivable that [t]he Beatles could have achieved all that they did: it took more than inspired musicianship and song-writing to remake popular music, and the presentation, direction and internal harmony of the Beatles all owed a huge amount to Brian Epstein.”

The 1962 contract between the Beatles and Brian Epstein (screen capture: Sotheby's)
The 1962 contract between the Beatles and Brian Epstein (screen capture: Sotheby’s)

Epstein, a would-be actor who was the grandson of Jewish immigrants from Russia and Lithuania, had first seen the Beatles at a gig at Liverpool’s Cavern Club not far from his shop in November 1961. He watched them perform there several more times in the next few weeks, offered to manage them the next month, and signed an initial five-year contract with them in January 1962.

He then spent months trying to get them a record contract, but was rejected by almost every major company in London. In May 1962, he finally secured a deal with EMI-owned Parlophone, whose roster was overseen by producer George Martin. The deal gave the Beatles one penny for each record sold — between them.

It was Epstein’s 1967 death, of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills, that marked the beginning of the end of the group, which fell apart two years later. Epstein was only 32 when he died.

“I knew that we were in trouble then,” John Lennon told Rolling Stone magazine in 1970. “I thought, ‘We’ve f*ckin’ had it now.'”

Kayla J Adams contributed to this report

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