Unknown Band-Signed "Meet the Beatles" Album Surfaces in Antiques Auction, Sells for $63,250

Beatles history was made on May 21. On that day, Case Antiques, a regional art and antiques auction house in Knoxville, Tenn., sold a previously unknown "Meet the Beatles" album, signed by the Fab Four.

It wasn't the price that made history. At $63,250 including the buyer's premium, the price was good, considering it was the only music piece offered in an antique and art auction, but not a particularly strong. The Hard Rock auctioned a similar one around a decade ago for about $77,000, and Beatles specialist Frank Caiazzo sold a "Meet the Beatles" a few years ago that he was asking over $100,000 for. His buyer reportedly sold it about a year later for significantly more.

What's history-making is that it is only the 13th or 14th U.S. release Beatles album signed by John, Paul, George and Ringo known to exist. And while very rare, "Meet the Beatles" is the most common band-signed U.S. label Beatles album, with 5-6 now known.


 

 

Famous, Yet Surprising Provenance

The album was consigned to auction by a son of Jules Gordon, M.D., the New York City doctor who famously treated George Harrison for a sore throat before the Beatles' appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in February 1964. The sore throat could have prevented Harrison's ability to sing on the show.

What's surprising is that until this album appeared, it was thought that the Beatles gave only one signed album to Dr. Gordon: the "Meet the Beatles" sold in the Hard Rock auction over a decade ago. If the provenance of the Hard Rock album is accurate, then at least two albums were signed for the doctor. (Experts agree that the autographs on both albums are unquestionably authentic.)

Word was that the buyer of this album was a collector/dealer who was offering it for sale at $125,000, but the owner contacted us and said that is not the case and that he's not actively trying to sell it at this time.

Unfortunately, we didn't hear about the album before the auction, but this is the press release Case Antiques sent out two weeks prior to the sale:

 

Rare Signed Beatles Album Headlines Case’s Spring Auction

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.— On May 21, 2011, Case Antiques Inc., Auctions & Appraisals will gavel a piece of Rock and Roll history: a Meet The Beatles! album signed by all four Beatles the day before their American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. The autographed album was consigned by a direct descendant of Dr. Jules Gordon, the New York City physician who treated George Harrison for a sore throat on February 8, 1964. The album is included as part of Case’s Spring auction, which will take place at the company’s gallery in Knoxville for persons wishing to bid in person and simultaneously online for national and international bidders.

The Background Story That Made the News
On February 9, 1964, The Beatles made their much-anticipated American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. But the day before the show, on Saturday, February 8, there was concern one of the band members, George Harrison, might miss the big moment because he had strep throat. Thomas Buckley noted in the New York Times on February 8, 1964: “Mr. Harrison, who is known as the quiet Beatle, awoke yesterday with a sore throat. He was treated by Dr. Jules Gordon, used a vaporizer and rejoined his colleagues at the studio late in the afternoon. ‘I should be perfect for tomorrow,’ he said.”

According to George Harrison’s sister, Louise Caldwell, the situation was more serious than they let on. In The Beatles Off The Record by Keith Badman, Louise Caldwell recalled: “The doctor said he couldn’t do The Ed Sullivan Show because he had a temperature of 104! But they pumped him with everything. He was thinking about getting a nurse to administer the medicine, every hour on the hour. Then the doctor suddenly realized that I was there and was his sister and he said to me, ‘Would you see to it? It’s probably just as well that you’re here because I don’t think there’s a single female in the city that isn’t crazy about The Beatles! You’re probably the only one who could function around him normally’.”

The physician who treated Harrison was Dr. Jules Gordon, the house doctor at the Plaza Hotel from 1942 until 1985. Dr. Gordon was called from his 4th floor office to the Presidential Suites on the 12th floor where The Beatles were staying. As doctor to many celebrities, Dr. Gordon didn’t fawn over The Beatles. “He was very unassuming and treated everyone with the same respect, no matter who they were. People just took to him,” said a Gordon family member. The Beatles must have liked Dr. Gordon because they gave him several unsolicited personalized autographs. Dr. Gordon met The Beatles on at least two occasions during their visit to New York for the Ed Sullivan Show and commented to his family that The Beatles were very accommodating and likeable each time.

Over the years, as the house physician for the Plaza and other well-known hotels in New York City, Dr. Gordon treated many famous people and Hollywood stars such as Rock Hudson, Bette Davis, Burt Lancaster, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Liz Taylor, Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, and others. Dr. Gordon, who passed away in 1993, was also the club physician for the New York Yankees in the 1940s and 1950s. He made the news in 1947 when he performed surgery on Joe DiMaggio and removed a 3-inch spur from his left heel, which enabled Dimaggio to go on to help the Yankees win the 1947 World Series.

A Rare Piece of ‘Beatles’ History
The Meet The Beatles album contained the Beatle’s first U.S. chart-topping hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” It was released in the U.S. on January 20th, just ahead of the band’s first U.S. tour, and less than three weeks before The Beatles signed it for Dr. Gordon. Autographs by all four Beatles on an LP from their early years are highly sought after by collectors. As Autograph Magazine noted in an article on January 25, 2011, “If you have a Beatles album signed by all four band members, you’ve got something quite valuable. Albums in good condition typically range from about $15,000 for the most common one, “Please Please Me,” to well over $100,000 for some of the rarest albums, especially U.S. releases. …Band-signed Beatles albums are very hard to come by.” Although the Meet The Beatles album in this auction is conservatively estimated at $10,000-$15,000, it is such a unique item that the hammer price could be much higher. According to John Case, President of Case Antiques Inc. Auctions & Appraisals, “It’s one of the earliest signed Beatles albums we’re aware of, and for it to be associated with such an important moment in the Beatles’ career makes it even more extraordinary.”

 

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Tags: 2011, 21, May, U.S., album, antiques, auction, beatles, case, lable, More…meet, release, signed, the

Comment by Chad B on June 6, 2011 at 9:37pm

Great album. If I find $125,000 sitting around it is mine.

 

Comment by Alexander Mehl on June 7, 2011 at 1:39am

Really nice item!

Album released Jan. 20th and was signed within less 3 weeks...! Have no idea why a new sleeve was soiled and damaged within several days and presented to the Beatles for signing. The signatures are all four written on the already dirty backside and all four sigs are without any traces and clear.

Why is there no personal dedication for the doc?

I can't imagine that such a poor album was given to the doc and it's unbelievable that such a valuable item - valuable as a memento and piece of history - was treated and stored nearly 50 years in an unappropriate  way!

It doesn't mean that the sigs look not genuine but there are some unanswered questions in my eyes!

 

Comment by Brandon Mysinger on June 7, 2011 at 6:32am
Boy don't odd things show up here in my home of east, TN ?
Comment by Steve Zarelli on June 7, 2011 at 10:42am
Alexander raises some very interesting points...
Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Community Manager on June 7, 2011 at 11:24am

What you're seeing isn't dirt for the most part, it's the aging of the album. American covers were not as high in quality as European ones, and the paper also probably has acid in it--it wasn't made to last. The corner split is from time, too. I'm sure the cover was in new condition when signed.  

Notice how white the bottom half of the album is, except at the spine edge, where it's a little darker. That leads me to believe it probably was stored vertically with other records. I imagine the doctor didn't realize how valuable it could be someday. All in all the album is in great shape.

Cathy Sarver's cat peed on the corner of her Abbey Road album, hitting George's signature. People just weren't as careful back then!

Comment by Josh Board on June 7, 2011 at 11:26am

Alexander brings up a good point. The story sounds a bit odd. Although I would say that can be explained this way -- the doctor didn't realize its value. It's kind of like when somebody has a Picasso painting that has been in the family for so many decades -- and they merely put it on the wall. They might nail it on the wall, they might have it near a window -- where the sun can damage it. This guy might've let his kids play the album, and it sat in the collection ... not all framed up like us collectors would do.

 

I will say -- the person buying the album -- and then listing it for $40,000 more...this is EXACTLY why it kind of rubs me the wrong way when people log onto this site, they say they're new, and they want to sell an item and want advice. I prefer COLLECTORS acquiring these things -- not people looking for investments.

 

It's easy to let it slide -- if it's some kid that inherited their dads autograph collection and would rather just sell it but doesn't know how, but....

Comment by John Hinchman on June 7, 2011 at 1:50pm
To imagine that a album cannot have a crack in it after 50 years of storage is nuts. I think anything after 50 years will have some sort of wear especially when it is given and not purchased. Frank bought his somewhere in the 60's sold it to perry cox for 100k and perry sold it for 125 nearly a year later, just to clear that up. The fact that these authenticators sell things really bugs me as you never know where there interest are. Speaking of Frank every since his lawsuit he has been impossible to get a hold of. Does anyone know what is wrong? I have heard personal issues possible but wish he was still available to help the rest of us out. These is a true piece of Beatles history I wish I would have known of it before with the providence it is certainly worth more then franks/ Perry's. This is historic!
Comment by sling on June 7, 2011 at 2:13pm
He's out partying like a rock star with his lawsuit winnings!
Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Community Manager on June 7, 2011 at 2:15pm

John,

Frank went through hell when Gladstone sued him and seemed to cut way back on giving advice, at least then. Give him time to get things going again and hopefully he'll be back to his old self sometime soon. As for authenticators selling things, when it comes to specialized fields like this, it would be very hard to make a living just authenticating. What do you do?

A agree with you...I wish we knew about this album before the sale. The PR firm they used sent Goldmine a release but then tried to get it picked up by AP (which they didn't) and didn't do a regular press release, so we didn't find out about it until someone told me after the sale. Otherwise I would have covered it, big time.

Are you familiar with the one the Hard Rock sold about a decade ago? That has similar provenance, which would mean that the doctor would have been given two signed albums. That's something interesting to figure out.

The consignor of this one provided his birth certificate proving he was a child of Dr. Gordon, a notarized affidavit and a photo of himself with his dad. I don't think this one's in question at all, and I think that if this consignor talks to us, he'll be able to answer how many he knew of.

Comment by Steve Cyrkin, Community Manager on June 7, 2011 at 2:17pm
Yeah, I don't think he's partying. I imagine his winnings just paid for his legal fees, if that. I'm sure they were hundreds of thousand dollars.

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