Pop Culture

Teen's Beatles photos sell for over $360,000

A trove of unpublished photographs of The Beatles' first U.S. concerts taken by a Washington teenager in 1964 took in more than $360,000 at auction, selling for many times their estimates.

Forty-six lots of about 50 pristine black-and-white photographs of the Fab Four that had sat in a box for 45 years totaled $361,938, including commission at the saleWednesday night, Christie's said. The collection had been expected to fetch about $100,000.

Bidders paid anywhere from $813 to $68,500 for Mike Mitchell's gelatin silver prints which chronicled The Beatles' appearances in Washington and Baltimore. Every work sold, mostly exceeding the pre-sale estimates.

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    Mike Mitchell/Christie's / CHRISTIE'S

    Image: Photos of Beatles' First US Concert to Be Auctioned Off

    Rare Beatles photos up for auction

    A collection of never-before seen pictures of the Fab Four taken in 1964 are going up for sale at Christie's on July 20.

  • Image: Photos of Beatles' First US Concert to Be Auctioned Off

    Rare Beatles photos up for auction

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    Fab Four

    The Beatles giving their back to the camera in 1964. This picture, taken by the photographer Mike Mitchell when he was 18, is part of a collection of 50 unpublished and never-before-seen photographs of the Beatles' first visits to the United States in 1964. The works were unveiled on June 10 at Christie's auction house in London and will go under the hammer at its New York branch on July 20.

    EPA / EPA
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    Rare Beatles photos up for auction

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    Making a point

    This shot of Paul McCartney, left, and John Lennon, taken by Mike Mitchell in 1964, is part of the collection of photos being auctioned at Christie's in New York on July 20.

    EPA / EPA
  • Image: George Harrison

    Rare Beatles photos up for auction

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    Ax man

    George Harrison plays the guitar during a concert in 1964. This picture, taken by the photographer Mike Mitchell when he was 18 years old, is part of a collection of previously unpublished photos of the Beatles that are going up for auction at Christie's in New York.

    EPA / EPA
  • Image: Ringo Starr

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    Yeah, yeah, yeah

    In this shot from Mike Mitchell's collection, Ringo Starr playing his drums during a concert in 1964.

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  • Image: Mike Mitchell

    Rare Beatles photos up for auction

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    Man behind the camera

    Photographer Mike Mitchell stands by some of his shots of The Beatles that are being exhibited at a hotel in London. The collection of 50 pictures entitled 'Beatles Illuminated' is expected to sell for $100,000 when they are auctioned in New York on July 20.

    AP / AP

In one striking shot, the band members were photographed at a news conference from behind with each of their heads encircled by a thin halo of light. The 16-inch by 16-inch print fetched the top price and was the last lot of the enthusiastic sale. It had been estimated at $2,000 to $3,000.

Christie's had said the photographs were priced conservatively because Mitchell was not a known photographer.

But Christie's director of iconic collections, Cathy Elkies, said their "intimacy and up-close quality" differentiated them from later Beatles photographs.

Calling the sale "an outstanding success," Elkies noted that bidders in the packed salesroom became part of Beatles history, as well as "the excitement that the Beatles still inspire all these years later."

The Beatles performed their first U.S. concert at the Washington Coliseum on Feb. 11, 1964, two days after their legendary debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Mitchell, then 18, was at Union Station when the Beatles arrived and documented the shrieking hysteria of their fans. He also shot the pre-concert news conference and was positioned at the stage for the entire Coliseum show. Months later he documented the Beatles concert at the Baltimore Civic Center.

Friends encouraged him to put his little-seen photographs up for sale.

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