This 4’x2’ piece of stage backdrop is expected to fetch least $800,000 at an auction set in April this year!
On February 9, 1964, with Beatlemania already on full swing, The Beatles made their historic performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” at Studio 50 in New York City. Not only was it their their first appearance on the show, it was also their first major performance in the US. 700 screaming fans got to watch the band play live in the studio, while an astounding 73 million more tuned into their television sets that evening.
It’s been five decades since then, and coinciding with its anniversary is the announcement that a piece of stage backdrop made of plastic autographed by John, Paul, George, and Ringo themselves is to be sold at an auction by Heritage Auctions set on April 26 in New York City!
According to an AP report, the item is currently owned by Beatles collector and voice-over talent Andy Geller, who bought it privately through a middleman back in 2002 for $100,000. On the reason why he decided to sell it, Geller was quoted to have said, “I’m not sure I’ll be here for the 75th anniversary,” referring to the Beatles’ arrival in the US.
The same article included an interview with former “Ed Sullivan Show” stagehand Jerry Gort, who was the one responsible for getting The Beatles’ signatures. Gort, describing that particular instant as a “spur of the moment thing,” recalled handing the boys a marker to sign the wall with as they were on their way to the stage from their dressing rooms to perform their next set which included “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” John was said to have put his signature first, followed by George, Paul, and Ringo who Gort had to lift by putting his arms around him as he was too short to reach the top. Ringo then “made a mad dash to get to his drums.”
Other signatures by other musicians would also be added on the wall, which was actually called a hardwall traveler, in later years. Despite this, it was almost thrown away by the end of the show’s season but “saved by another carpenter for a young disabled fan.”
The wall is to be sold together with a signed letter from Gort as well as a letter of authenticity from Beatles autograph expert Frank Caiazzo. Garry Schrum of Heritage Auctions called it “an amazing wild card,” estimating that it could sell between $800,000 to a million dollars, “maybe even more.”