Photos From First U.S. Beatles Concert Sell for $361,938
Photographer Mike Mitchell, at the age of 18, took pictures at the Beatles' first US concert at the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11, 1964, snapping shots just a few feet from the stage. This was the band's first gig after their famed appearance on 'The Ed Sullivan Show,' which took place a few days prior. Those very photos -- a set of 50 silver gelatin prints made from the negatives that were stored in his basement for years -- were auctioned off by Christie's for a whopping $361,938 this week. The shots took in more than double than expected.
The priciest shot was a backlit photo (above) taken while Mitchell stood behind the band, which raked in $68,500. An image of drummer Ringo Starr pounding away at his kit had a receipt of $8,125. The group image was estimated at $2,000 to $3,000; the Starr shot was expected to notch $3,000 to $5,000. Clearly, someone at Christie's was lowballing (and mistaken about the worth of) these images.
Cathy Elkies, Christie's director of iconic collections, said she expected the bids to actually top the estimates, telling the Associated Press, "Beatles fans are fierce. To uncover this trove of images that's never been published will really excite people." Apparently, few photos from this gig actually exist, upping the value of the pics exponentially. Take a look at the full lot of Mitchell's photos here.
As for the shutterbug Mitchell? He's now a 65-year-old art photographer, still based in Washington, D.C. The photos didn't cross his mind much -- we know, we're surprised by that, too -- because he was focused on a body of work about light and thought that the images could not be restored as well as they actually have been.
Watch the Beatles on 'The Ed Sullivan Show'