The Beatles’ First Contract With Brian Epstein Sells for $343,000
The first management contract the Beatles signed with Brian Epstein has sold at auction for $343,000, raising money for a charity foundation.
The document was legalized on Jan. 24, 1962, with signatures from John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and original drummer Pete Best. It was endorsed by the parents of McCartney, Harrison and Best, since they were all less than 21 years old at the time and therefore too young to enter into such a contract on their own.
The deal had been cut between Epstein and McCartney, agreeing a management fee of 10 percent, rising to 15 percent if the band’s income reached $150 a week or more – roughly equivalent to $3,100 today. It included terms under which Epstein would find the band engagements, manage their schedule and oversee their publicity, and also look after “all matters concerning cloths, make-up and the presentation and constitution of the artists’ acts and also on all music to be performed.”
“Epstein was just blown away by the passion, the energy, the charisma, the raw sexuality onstage,” Sotheby’s auctioneer Gabriel Heaton told the Guardian. “The Beatles had the stage energy but he instilled a sense of professionalism in them. Epstein stopped them eating onstage, made sure they played the songs properly and coherently, and he got them bowing at the end of a set.”
The contract did not carry Epstein’s own signature – he later admitted that, though he knew he’d remain faithful to its terms, he “had not 100 percent faith in myself to help the Beatles adequately. … I wanted to free the Beatles of their obligations if I felt they would be better off.”
The document, owned by Epstein’s publisher Ernest Hecht, had been expected to sell for $374,000. The funds raised will go to the Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation. The contract was replaced by a second one with different terms on Oct. 1, 1962, after Ringo Starr had replaced Best; that later document last sold for $455,000 in 2015.