Beatles for Sale was the name of one of the Fab Four's 1964 albums, but it also could be used to sum up what's occurring with all the renewed interest in the band surrounding the 50th anniversary of their arrival in America.
"There's a lot of hype. There's a lot of buzz and I'm getting a lot of people contacting me trying to offering me things," says Frank Caiazzo, who buys, sells and authenticates Beatles memorabilia signed or handwritten by the band's members, and runs the website BeatlesAutographs.com. "Unfortunately, the majority of them are not authentic, either secretarial signed or signed by the road manager or a roadie or straight out forgery."
"I don't know that the prices have gone up per se, but what I'm seeing is a lot of people who have pieces related to the first visit feel this is the time to get it out and try to get top dollar for it," Caiazzo adds.
There are two pieces that Caiazzo has been involved in that stand to generate big bucks in the coming months. The first is a 4-foot-by-2-foot plastic partition from the set of "The Ed Sullivan Show" that was signed by all four Beatles. Caiazzo was involved in brokering the sale of the partition to its current owner, Andy Geller, who is attempting to sell it for $1 million.
The history of the piece dates back to when a Sullivan show stage hand was ordered to dispose of the wall, he decided to cut away the part of the partition with Beatles' signatures and he gave it to a young neighbor boy who was a fan of the band. He had it for 20 years before he sold it to some folks who owned a bar in Baton Rouge, La. Caiazzo acted as a go-between, purchasing the piece from the bar owners and then selling it to its current owner. He says he can't disclose how much he sold the partition to Geller for, but says collector made "a good investment" if he gets $1 million he's seeking for it.
The other item is a U.K. version of the A Hard Day's Night album signed by all four Beatles for a then-13-year-old runaway named Elizabeth Freedman. Then living in Newton, Mass., Freedman caught the British invasion bug after seeing The Animals in the U.S. She withdrew $400 from her bank account, got her passport and immunizations and then flew to London to check out the Swinging '60s Scene. Her story became national, and then international news with British papers soon picking up the story.
"George Martin caught wind of it and he said, 'If you're found, we promise you, you'll be able to meet the Beatles,'" Caiazzo says. "The next day they found her and the promise with kept. She got to meet the Beatles, went back stage, took some pictures with them and she had two albums signed."
One of those albums is the copy of A Hard Day's Night that she is now selling. The other album was a copy With the Beatles that she gave away to a close friend of hers at the time, but lost track of her, so that other collectible is still out there.
"The signed A Hard Day's Night album is worth $60,000," Caiazzo says. "With the Beatles is not as desirable title and there are more of them out there, but it's still a $45,000-to-$50,000 signed record album out there somewhere."