'Fifth Beatle' Sutcliffe Memorabilia To Be Sold

By | September 24, 2001 at 12:00 AM

The letters and art of “Fifth Beatle” Stuart Sutcliffe are to be put up for bid, auctioneer Fleetwood Owen said Friday.

Some 400 items, including correspondence between Sutcliffe and the Beatles, drawings, photographs and his first guitar will be auctioned as one lot in a sealed-bid sale, it said.

“The collection is full of wonderful things, wonderful artwork, fabulously interesting letters, poetry, sketchbooks, all delightful and beautiful things to look at,” said Sutcliffe’s sister, Pauline, who is selling the material.

Sutcliffe died of a brain hemorrhage six months before the Beatles reached the hit parade in 1962.

Sutcliffe, whose short life was the subject of the 1994 film “Backbeat,” became best friends with John Lennon after meeting him at Liverpool Art School in 1959.

Lennon persuaded him to sell one of his paintings and buy a guitar, which survived to be included in the auction.

It was a Hofner electric bass that George Harrison later recalled Sutcliffe “had no idea how to play.”

In the summer of 1960, the Silver Beatles – Sutcliffe, Lennon, Paul McCartney, Harrison and soon-to-be-demoted drummer Pete Best – went to play in seedy nightclubs in Hamburg’s red-light district.

In Hamburg, Sutcliffe met and fell in love with German photographer Astrid Kirchherr, whose photographs of the early Beatles also form part of the collection.

Sutcliffe left the band in 1961 and resumed his studies at Hamburg School of Art. He died in the German city in April 1962 at age 21.

The pop memorabilia, which includes Sutcliffe’s designs for the Beatles famous buttoned-up suits and “moptop” haircuts, are expected to fetch up to $4.38 million.

Before the sale, the mementos will go on display in New York in October and in London in November.

Specialist music auctioneer Fleetwood Owen will conduct the sale, which includes full copyright over all the items, between Nov. 27 and Dec. 7.

A book by Pauline Sutcliffe about her brother, “The Beatles’ Shadow: Stuart Sutcliffe and his Lonely Hearts’ Club,” will be published next month.

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