The price (plus 25% buyer’s premium) came two years after another example for the same event set a previous joint highest sum for a concert poster: $110,000 (£88,000) - see ATG No 2438. That was a price shared with a poster sold last May also by Heritage advertising Hank Williams’ two concerts scheduled for New Year's Day 1953 at the Canton Memorial Auditorium in Ohio.
They let it be
Heritage said: “Unlike previous Beatles-at-Shea record-holders, the one sold from the Fab Four’s final tour was untouched by conservation experts. Its previous owner, who owned it for decades, took great care of the keepsake.”
The Fab Four’s first appearance at the 55,000-seater stadium in Queens in 1965 needed no promotion. At the height of Beatlemania in the US, the venue sold out in minutes. However, for the return gig the following year, ticket sales at $4.50 each were lukewarm.
The simple 18in x 2ft (40 x 60cm) cardboard poster created by promoter Sid Bernstein to advertise the event is today familiar from countless later bootlegged copies. But, of the few hundred originals made before the concert by the Murray Poster Printing Co, only half a dozen are thought to have survived.
Pete Howard, Heritage director of concert posters, said: “The Beatles’ Shea reaching $275,000 [premium-inclusive price] wasn’t surprising, so much as it was long overdue. Compared to the highest-priced movie posters and comic books, there’s still a lot of blue sky ahead for the best concert posters to keep increasing in value.”
In July 1963 the Beatles played five shows at the Winter Gardens at Margate in Kent, England. A programme from that legendary run, signed by all four of the band, sold for a hammer price of $36,000 (£27,720) after a heated bidding war.
Moments later, two more Beatles-related items sold for $32,000 (£24,640) each, both setting new records: a fab foursome of 15in-high Beatles bobbleheads made in 1964, and one of the few surviving picture sleeves for Harrison’s 1979 single Love Comes to Everyone. The latter was the first one Heritage had ever seen. Bidding opened at $15,500 before climbing to $32,000 - even without the record inside.
An original concert-advertising cardboard window card for the Beatles’ final concert – held on August 29, 1966, at the long-demolished Candlestick Park in San Francisco – sold at $26,000 (£20,020), smashing previous highs for the artwork. Heritage said the poster, graded a 9.2 Near Mint Minus by Certified Guaranty Company (CGC), was signed by Wes Wilson, famed for San Francisco psychedelic concert poster design.
A near-mint example of Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley’s adored Family Dog Skeleton and Roses poster made for the Grateful Dead’s September 16-17, 1966, concerts at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom sold for a hammer price of $110,000 (£84,700).
That poster, graded Near Mint Plus 9.6 by CGC, came from the KC Murphy Bindweed Press Collection, and is now the most expensive concert artwork from the psychedelic era ever sold at auction.