The Beatles collectible library: The Fab Four's top items

The cllct Portfolio looks at the biggest Beatles sales of all time

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With the release of Peter Jackson's remastered version of the 1970 film "Let It Be," we take a look at a few of the top Beatles collectibles throughout history in this edition of the cllct Portfolio.


Nearly 40 percent (73.7 million people) of the United States population tuned in to watch the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in February 1964. Remembered as their official introduction to American audiences, the band sold 2.5 million records in the country during the following month.

By April, the Beatles owned the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the first act to ever do so.

Tickets to the show were printed months prior, far before the guests had even been announced. This resulted in CBS receiving an influx of 50,000 ticket requests after the band was announced, despite the theater only seating 728 audience members.

Among the requests: Richard Nixon, Leonard Bernstein and Walter Cronkite (for their daughters).

VIP tickets were printed shortly before the show and featured a unique design. Open seating didn’t require ushers to return ticket stubs to attendees, so none of the 728 regular tickets survived from the show.

In 2010, a pair of VIP tickets sold at Julien’s for $5,120 (crushing the $800 - $1,200 estimate). The lot included a memo sent between CBS employees reading: “The special tickets for last Sunday's Ed Sullivan Show were destroyed in the usual manner. I'm enclosing a couple that I found on my desk. I realize its not what you hoped for, but they might make an interesting souvenir.”

Only five unused VIP tickets have surfaced in the decades since and they remain among the rarest and most desirable concert tickets in the collecting world, with another one of the five selling for $50,500 in December 2023 at Gotta Have Rock and Roll.


In 1969, John McCaw bought a Gibson guitar for $175 from a friend in San Diego. McCaw played the guitar for decades, marveling at its “pretty tone” alongside friends.

Then in April 2014, McCaw saw a photo of George Harrison’s guitar in an issue of Guitar Aficionado. He spotted the serial number, just four digits off from his own Gibson, and thought that might mean the two guitars were produced during the same period.

McCaw began researching and soon concluded that John Lennon and George Harrison had purchased Gibson J160e guitars at the same music store in Liverpool in September 1962. Shortly thereafter, the Beatles recorded their first two singles.

At the time of its sale, Lennon's guitar was the most valuable ever sold at public auction (Credit: Julien's)
At the time of its sale, Lennon's guitar was the most valuable ever sold at public auction (Credit: Julien's)

McCaw’s research also turned up that the duo had swapped guitars at some point in 1962 or 1963, after which point Lennon’s guitar went missing.

By reviewing recordings of the band from the era, McCaw was able to identify shared markings between his guitar and Lennon’s.

In November 2015, Julien’s Auctions’ Darren Julien called it “one of the biggest finds in music history.” Julien’s auctioned the guitar for $2.41 million, setting a record at the time for any guitar sold at auction. It still holds the title for the most valuable Beatles guitar ever sold.


To call the Beatles’ 1965 concert at Shea Stadium an important moment in music history is like describing Babe Ruth’s ‘Called Shot’ as a memorable play — some moments are simply in another stratosphere.

Stories of the band’s difficulties hearing themselves and each other on stage over the sound of 55,000 screaming fans have become the stuff of lore. The performance was the first pop music concert held in a stadium and remains the most significant all these years later.

Given the indelible ties between the Beatles and Shea Stadium (home of the New York Mets), a signed baseball from the occasion is arguably the most desirable Beatles autograph collectors could dream up.

In December 2023, Christie’s auctioned off the collection of Rush lead vocalist Geddy Lee. A ball from the Shea Stadium concert signed by all four band members sold for $176,400.


In July 1966, just a month before the release of their seminal album “Revolver,” the group was in the midst of a tour through Germany, Japan and the Philippines.

The 13 shows were the first leg of a world tour that ultimately culminated with their final U.S. tour. As to be expected given the oft-told stories regarding the monotony felt by the band toward the end of their touring career (which would lead them to cease live shows completely), it was a grueling two-show-per-day, unfulfilling stretch.

It also coincided with a changing of the tides and a transition from all-out Beatlemania to a more controversial point of political disagreement in the larger liberal-conservative discourse.

Nonetheless, demand to see the band was massive, forcing it to add two more shows to the originally planned three-show visit.

The band also required larger venues to accommodate the crowds, leading manager Brian Epstein to book the Budokan, traditionally reserved for martial arts shows.

"Images of a Woman" sold for $1,744,000 in February 2024 (Credit: Christie's
"Images of a Woman" sold for $1,744,000 in February 2024 (Credit: Christie's

Originally built for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, the venue was considered a sacred home for one of their culture’s most celebrated art forms.

This elevated the ire of the anti-Beatles sentiment in Tokyo by groups who felt this was an insult to traditional Japanese culture. By the time the band disembarked the plane in Tokyo, death threats had already been made against the group.

While Tokyo Police installed extra safety precautions, the Beatles themselves were unaware of the threat, with Epstein determining it best to keep that information to himself for the time being.

To pass the time, the Fab Four spent three nights in the Tokyo Hilton painting. Each band member painted one corner of the 30x40 canvas.

Robert Whitaker, the same photographer responsible for their famous Butcher Cover Album, was present during the process and later remarked: "Absolutely the best period I ever witnessed among the Beatles… [I] never saw them calmer, more contented than at this time... They'd stop, go and do a concert, and then it was 'Let's go back to the picture!'"

In February 2024, the work of art — the only collaborative painting they ever created — sold for $1.744 million at Christie’s.


While the Beatles’ 1966 return to Shea Stadium may not be as famous as the prior year’s debut, it spawned what is arguably the most iconic concert poster in history (perhaps tied only with the Grateful Dead’s Skeleton & Roses FD-26).

The Beatles 1966 Shea Stadium advertising concert poster, made just weeks before the August show, was likely printed in the low hundreds, with hardly any saved.

At the time, the only concert posters typically saved by collectors were of the psychedelic variety.

It’s believed around a dozen of these original posters remain extant, with a $275,000 sale at Heritage in April 2022 marking the record price paid for any concert poster at public auction.

Will Stern is a reporter and editor for cllct.