A collection of early photographs of the Beatles intended for the Clinton Presidential Library has been stolen from the car of George Harrison’s sister in a smash-and-grab robbery, police said.
The photographs and some Beatles lyrics were in a briefcase stolen on Sunday when the thief smashed the window of Lou Harrison’s locked car, which was parked in downtown Little Rock several blocks from the Clinton library.
“There’s no indication the thief or thieves had any idea what was in the case,” said Sgt. Terry Hastings of the Little Rock Police Department.
“They may already have thrown it away, not recognizing what the material was or what it could be worth.”
Lou Harrison drove to Little Rock from her home in Illinois to donate the material to the archive of former President Bill Clinton, who considers the Beatles second only to Elvis Presley among his greatest musical influences.
“It is precious to me obviously because I don’t have my brother in person,” Harrison told Little Rock television station KTHV.
George Harrison, the Beatles’ legendary lead guitarist whose compositions with the group included “Taxman,” “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something,” died of cancer in Los Angeles in December 2001.
His sister said she felt the stolen items should be in the Clinton library, which opens next month, because of the former president’s fondness for the legendary British musicians.
“I feel that, really, Clinton is the Beatle president,” Harrison said. “I thought maybe if I could house them at the Clinton library, they could be on display, that all the Beatle people could enjoy seeing them.”
With Harrison’s death, there are now two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. John Lennon was shot dead by a deranged fan in 1980.
Skip Rutherford, president of the Clinton Presidential Foundation, which is overseeing construction of the Library, said Harrison was able to donate several other pieces of memorabilia. These including a record album signed by all four of the Beatles in 1964, when the group was in the U.S. for a storied appearance on the Ed Sullivan television program.
“We’ve expressed personal regrets for the theft, but it was a random act,” Rutherford said. “That doesn’t help much, but it could have happened anywhere at any time.”
Rutherford said Harrison would be an honored guest when the Clinton Library formally opens on Nov. 18.