The very first management contract signed by The Beatles on January 24th, 1962 recently sold at auction.
The document signed by all four original members went for an eye-watering £275,000 ($344,000 at current exchange rates).
The document was signed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and original drummer Pete Best. The contract was to retain the services of manager Brian Epstein. Epstein, credited with helping to shape the group’s image and superstar trajectory, died of a drug overdose in 1967.
Epstein was guaranteed a 10% fee that would rise to 15% if the band’s income exceeded $150 a week. Apparently, McCartney negotiated the manager’s fee down from 20% before the group signed.
Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts specialist Gabriel Heaton shared some information about the document.
“We feel extremely privileged to be offering such a significant piece of history, a document that set the band on a path that brought them a level of success and cultural influence that was surely beyond their dreams when they put pen to paper to entrust their future together to Brian Epstein on that January day in 1962.”
Epstein discovered the band when the group performed at Liverpool’s Cavern Club on November 9th, 1961. Epstein had no prior management experience before pitching his services, but he was determined to work with the group. He did not sign the document, which meant he was bound to The Beatles, but they didn’t have the same obligation.
Epstein later explained that he didn’t sign the document because he didn’t have 100% faith in himself to help the group.
Instead, he wanted the band to be free of their obligations if they felt they would be better off elsewhere. Three of the members were under 21 at the time they signed the document, so their fathers co-signed with them. Each signature is clearly visible on the original contract, though it does appear a bit rumpled.
Proceeds from the sale of the contract will benefit the Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation, as reported by BBC News.