You might have heard recently about the signed copy of Sgt Pepper which sold at auction for US$290,500. It made headlines around the world because it shattered the previous record for such an item.
The album was purchased by an unnamed buyer from the Midwest USA. An anonymous seller parted with the album through the Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which ahead of the bidding estimated the album would sell for $30,000.
The album was a U.K. Parlophone copy with a high gloss cover and gatefold:
Now comes news of another perhaps even rarer copy of Sgt Pepper that will be auctioned by the same auction house.
I got an email last week from a guy named Tony Gillespie alerting Beatlesblogger to this one. Its a copy of Pepper on the Capital label – but the cover has a major difference to what you are used to. Many of the faces on the famous shot have been superimposed with the faces of Capitol Records sales executives from the day. I first came across talk of this unusual item this back in 2009. Its estimated that only 40-50 copies were ever made for internal company distribution. Now, one is coming onto the market. Tony Gillespie is helping the owners of this extremely rare LP to publicise the auction – and so I asked him to provide me with some more details. His response is printed below:
Here’s a quick history of the “Doctored” Sgt Pepper’s cover:
Earlier this year, I received a message from a friend of mine named Chad, a prominent local buyer and seller of collectibles and antiques. He purchased a set of Beatles records, and since records aren’t his forte, he contacted me, Tony Gillespie, owner of Gillespie Records, because he knew of my extensive Beatles record collection, which has been called one of Indiana’s finest. (www.facebook.com/gillespierecords) He mentioned a “weird Sgt Pepper’s cover with different faces on it.” I asked him to send a photo of that record first.
I recalled reading an article that was generated from a story in Record Collector magazine (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/the-beatles-album-artwork-worth-70000-276691) about a “doctored” Sgt Pepper’s cover. I found the article and waited for the photo. When I opened the attachment, my knees buckled. There it was, the Holy Grail! The article estimates the cover to be worth 70,000 pounds (equvalant to $100,000+ US dollars, roughly).
I called the owner (Chad) and his wife (Kimberly), and told them to sit down. I revealed what the article said, and the roller coaster ride began. The three of us formed a partnership, with them owning the record, and me acting as their representative and got to work on finding the best home for the record. We contacted Perry Cox, the leading authority on all things Beatles, and he agreed to have us to his home (we flew from Indiana to Arizona) to personally authenticate the record. It was the first time he had ever held the “doctored” cover in his hands.
Perry estimated there were only 40-50 copies of the record produced (a claim mirrored by Bruce Spizer in his book, “The Beatles Story on Capitol Records, Part 2) for a Sales Executive meeting held in late 1967 in Florida. One cover is thought to have been made for each of the executives featured on the cover, but only 3-5 are known to still exist, and NONE have ever been sold on the open market, making the true value of this cover unknown. We were able to successfully tie the record to an executive on the cover, which Perry says could double the value!!
Perry also gave me this quote for promotional purposes…he has given his permission to me to print it:
“Among the rarest and most interesting artifacts produced during the original era of the Beatles classic Sgt. Pepper’s LHCB”, was an extremely rare U.S. stereo album cover version prepared exclusively for a Capitol Records party in honor of the landmark album in late 1967. The front cover of the album featured photos of noted Capitol Records employees amongst the many noted famous images we’ve now become so familiar with. Today, this has become one of the most sought after albums by collectors and fans all over the world. With only about 40+ examples made, I rank it one of the top 10 all time collectible albums by the Beatles in the world.”———Perry Cox, April, 2013.
We settled on Heritage Auctions of Texas to handle the first public sale of the “Doctored” Sgt Pepper’s cover, which will be held on August 10. They gave an auction estimate of $25,000-$30,000 but admitted the estimate in this case was hard to pinpoint due to the record’s obscurity. Chad, Kimberly and I have set up a Facebook page dedicated to the record www.facebook.com/rarestbeatlesrecord , a Twitter account @Beatlesrarist and a website www.rarestbeatlesrecord.com. We also made a You Tube video to detail the story a bit better here: