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Beatles for Sale, Cheap

Like the song says, you’ve got to hide your love-or at least your priceless Beatles stash-away. Preferaby in a battered old suitcase.

A British man on holiday Down Under took a gamble and ponied up $37 for a suitcase at a flea market in Melbourne, Australia, and made an Antiques Roadshow-worthy discovery.

The case contained a virtually priceless collection of Beatles memorabilia, including signed photos, concert programs and unreleased recordings, according to the London Times.

Fab Four aficionados are speculating that the treasure trove is the long-lost archive of Beatle crony Mal Evans, considered by many fans to be the Holy Grail of Beatlemania.

Evans, a friend of the Fabs who toiled as a roadie, driver and gopher, was killed by police in 1976 after brandishing a fake gun. His possessions were, according to Beatle lore, lost during the subsequent police investigation.

Enter Frasier Claughon. The 41-year-old tourist whose magical mystery tour led him to the unassuming case.

“It’s like finding the end of the rainbow in Australia,” he told the Times. “I spotted one tatty old suitcase, which frankly I wouldn’t have given house room, but when I picked it up there was something in it.”

And how. Among the items crammed into the case was a four-and-a-half hour reel-to-reel tape that includes previously unheard tracks by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, as well as alternate versions of “We Can Work It Out” and “Cry Baby Cry.”

One song, “I’m in Love,” was a tune penned by Lennon and McCartney but never released by the Beatles. The tune was given to another British band, the Fourmost.

The Times is running a clip of the song on its Website (www.timesonline.co.uk).

In the meantime, the material is being examined by the Beatles’ Apple Records and other Beatle-ologists to determine its authenticity.

If the collection is legit, it could be worth upwards of $1 million.

“Now I’ve been told that to collectors the photographs, books, magazines and documents alone are worth a fortune,” Claughton told Billboard, adding that he plans to hawk the goods as individual lots on the Internet. “The documents in the main are recording sheets for some of the best-known Beatles hits. And the tapes, if they turn out to be unheard material, could be almost priceless.”

Indeed, all signs point to a big payoff if everything checks out. An Evans notebook that contained hand-written drafts of “Hey Jude” and “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” lyrics was auctioned off by his widow in 1998 for $185,000.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

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