A stained sheet of handwritten Beatles lyrics went on display Tuesday before a sealed-bid auction where it was expected to sell for at least $2 million.
The draft of the words to "A Day in the Life," from the 1967 album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," were written by John Lennon and are considered one of the most valuable musical manuscripts of the 20th century to be offered for sale.
The Beatles' road manager, Mal Evans, sold the piece of memorabilia for $100,000 at Sotheby's in London in 1992 to an unidentified American collector, who has now put the item up for sale.
The sheet, which has lyrics over both sides and is thought to be stained by either coffee or egg, are on private view at Bonhams auction house, in London, until Friday.
"It is undoubtedly the most significant Lennon manuscript to be offered at auction, and arguably, the most significant musical manuscript of the 20th century," said Martin Gammon, a music specialist at Bonhams.
Lennon initially penned the song over breakfast, drawing inspiration from news items in an edition of the Daily Mail newspaper, including a report on the death of Tara Browne, heir to the Guinness fortune and a friend of the Beatles.
The singer later refined the lyrics with Paul McCartney before the song was recorded.
Gammon said he expected the manuscript to sell for between $2 million and $3 million in the sealed-bid auction, which closes on March 7 — the anniversary of the first radio performance by the Beatles in 1962.