A rare and controversial Beatles record once belonging to John Lennon has sold at auction for £180,000.
The so-called “butcher” cover of Yesterday And Today sparked outrage upon its unveiling in the US in 1966 as it showed the Fab Four smiling while posing in white coats and covered in pieces of raw meat and decapitated baby dolls.
The controversy led to it being withdrawn and replaced by a more public-friendly cover showing the band standing around an old fashioned steamer trunk.
Despite the last-minute change, the damage was done to The Beatles’ record label, Capitol, and it was reportedly the only Beatles’ album to lose money for the company.
Lennon’s personal copy of the album went under the hammer at an auction in The Beatles’ home city of Liverpool on Thursday, and smashed its expected selling price.
It had been predicted to go for £136,000 but instead cost its new owner £180,000, which organisers said is the third highest price paid for a vinyl. The buyer, who wished to remain anonymous, is understood to be a US collector.
The “butcher” record was part of a wider lot of Beatles memorabilia up for sale at the event held at the The Beatles Story museum and organised by Julien’s Auctions.
An interior door to the Tittenhurst Park country house in Berkshire, which was lived in by both Lennon and Ringo Starr, sold for £5,760 while a black pen on paper cartoon drawing by Lennon depicting a man crawling out of a box sold for £12,800.
A baseball signed by all four Beatles – Lennon, Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison – at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, during their final live performance sold for £57,600 and a poster from Liverpool Airport announcing the “Visit of The Beatles” on July 10 1964 signed by the band fetched £32,000.
Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s black Samsonite briefcase used during their 1966 tour of the Far East and their US tour of the same year sold for £3,520.
The “butcher” record was on the wall of Lennon’s The Dakota apartment in New York until he gave it to Dave Morrell, a Beatles fan and bootleg collector.
It is signed: “To Dave from/ John Lennon/ Dec 7th 71.”
Lennon, who was gunned down outside the apartment building in 1980, scrawled a sketch on the back of the cover, showing a man holding a shovel with his dog in front of a setting sun.
The cover also includes autographs by Starr and Paul McCartney, which Morrell obtained later. It is believed to be the only original “butcher” album bearing three Beatles signatures.
Darren Julien, president and CEO of Julien’s Auctions, said: “This was a world record for a Beatles Butcher cover but the third highest price paid for a vinyl.
“In 2015 Julien’s sold Ringo Starr’s number 1 White album for 790,000 US dollars (£607,000) and in January of that same year an acetate copy of My Happiness, the first song Elvis Presley ever recorded sold for 300,000 US dollars (£230,000).
“This is the third highest price paid for a vinyl and the market is still developing so we anticipate in the next five years this same record could bring 500,000 US dollars plus.”