Autographed Beatles Item From Ed Sullivan Show To Go Up For Auction
Posted by Joseph Lee on 02.06.2014
Part of the stage...
Billboard reports a large piece of the stage backdrop, autographed by the Beatles during their first live US concert on the Ed Sullivan Show fifty years ago will be auctioned off. It could earn between $800,000 to $1 million. The four signed caricatures on their appearance on February 9, 1964 between sets. They opened with "All My Loving" in front of 700 fans and 73 million TV viewers.
The current owner of the plastic wall section (4x2 ft) is Andy Gellar, a longtime collector and TV/film voice-over artist. It will be sold through Heritage Auctions in New York City on April 26. It is believed to be the band's largest autograph. A stagehand got the group to sign the "hardwall traveler", which is rolled back and forth to reveal the next act. The band signed from the bottom up: John Lennon first, followed by Paul McCartney (who signed it as "Uncle" Paul McCartney), George Harris and Ringo Starr. Starr was lifted up as he was shorter than the rest and couldn't reach the top. The same person also put his foot on the wall to keep it from opening until Ringo finished signing. That's when Starr "made a mad dash to get to his drums" and the band played "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand".
Carpenter Jerry Gort said: "It was a spur of the moment thing. They came down from stage right from their dressing rooms, I gave them a marker and asked them to sign the wall."
The wall also has the signature of other acts in that TV season, including The Searchers. That British band wrote: "The Searchers Were Here with Kilroy 4/5/64." At the end of the season, it was said to be thrown away but another carpenter for a young disabled Beatles fan. Geller purchased the wall privately for over $100,000 in 2002 without knowing its history.
Gort's grandson called in him in 2006 to say that he read an article in Rolling Stone about someone who owned the wall that Gort had talked about in Los Angeles. The grandson contacted Geller's agent before Gort and Geller met. They only lived miles apart. It's unknown where the wall was before Geller owned it, but it was rumored that it was in a Baton Rouge bar and owned by another collector. Geller said he made a deal with a middleman but doesn't know who had it.
Geller said he kept the item in his home in a framed picture box. He's selling it because "I'm not sure I'll be here for the 75th" anniversary of the Beatles' U.S. debut. He added: "Now I kind of get to prove that it is an investment."
The wall is being sold with a signed letter from Gort and a letter of authenticity from Beatles autograph expert Frank Caiazzo. It will be displayed in the window of Heritage Auctions' Park Avenue gallery in time for Beatlefest at the Grand Hyatt New York that runs Friday through Sunday. It is an autograph and memorabilia event. The most expensive collectible is John Lennon's hand-painted Rolls Rolls Phantom V. It sold at a 1985 auction for $2.23 million. The most expensive hand-written lyric is "All You Need is Love," auctioned for $1.25 million in 2005.
Heritage music memorabilia consignment director Garry Schrum said the wall is "an amazing wild card," which could go for "$800,000 to $1 million, maybe more."