Drum Kit Ringo Starr Used in Beatles Hits Sells for $2.2M

5 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A lifetime’s worth of a Beatle’s ‘stuff’ heads to auction Dec. 3-5.

If you ever wanted to own one of Ringo Starr’s Ludwig drums that were made in Monroe, or a multitude of other items from the ex-Beatle, then now’s your chance.On Thursday, Los Angeles-based Julien’s Auctions hosted a 1,367-lot sale dedicated to the property of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr and actress Barbara Bach.

In a Beverly Hills back room filled with the personal possessions of a lifetime of fame as a Beatle and solo artist, Ringo Starr happily posed for pictures with guests on Tuesday. Buried in the couple’s possessions, among everything from Lichtenstein prints to old scarves and Adidas sneakers, was Lot 167, a gold Patek Philippe wristwatch that fetched $179,200. Dozens of framed gold and platinum record awards for Starr’s recordings with the Fab Four and on his own, distinctive outfits he’s worn on stage and while hanging out with his superstar rock pals, a plethora of Beatles collectibles — Ringo’s “Yellow Submarine” lunch box and thermos, anyone?

It was the opening-night party celebrating this week’s auction of selected items from Starr’s life and career to benefit his Lotus Foundation charity. — Ringo rings and other jewelry and, perhaps most tantalizing to Beatles fans around the world, numerous musical instruments, a few among the most iconic in the history of popular music. More than 800 items from his music career and the life he shares with wife Barbara Bach will be sold by Julien’s Auctions, from star-shaped jewelry and vintage drum kits to his suit from A Hard Day’s Night and mementos from decades of world travel. He and his wife, actress Barbara Bach, also are putting up for bid many items from their homes, an auction that started Thursday and concludes Friday. “We’re fed up with having the stuff in storage when it could be put to some good use and also give a lot of people joy,” Ringo told The Associated Press. “We have so much stuff and a lot of it we haven’t seen in 20 to 30 years.” Ludwig is a century-old drum maker from Chicago that moved to Monroe in the mid-1980s, and where 50 people craft drums for the likes of Ringo, Questlove and Alex Van Halen.

The latter include Starr’s signature Ludwig drum kit with “The Beatles” logo on the bass drum head, which has a pre-auction estimate of $300,000 to $500,000, and two guitars formerly owned and played by bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison. As guests took snapshots, Starr picked up a wooden Balinese statue and cradled it like he planned to take it back home. “They’ll never notice,” he said with a laugh, then turned toward a mod tweed jacket hanging nearby and stroked his fingers on the lapel. “I’ll try this on.” Starr will be one of thousands monitoring the auction online and on site at Julien’s, with special attention paid to instruments used on Beatles and Starr solo records, including the 1964 Rickenbacker electric guitar given to him by John Lennon. The trio of Monroe-made kits include one from 1989 Ringo played with his All-Starr Band, (pre-auction estimate $50,000-$70,000), a 2002 gold sparkle kit from the “Concert for George” ($30,000-$50,000) and a 2011 studio drum kit ($20,000-$40,000.) But those are relative steals compared with the kit that helped launch Beatlemania and Ludwig’s fortunes – Ringo’s first Ludwig drum set. Julien’s listed the watch with a $40,000 starting bid and an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000, which is significantly less than you’d expect for a basic 3448.

He has spoken of how he bought it in London before the Beatles came to the states, enamored by its look, its sound and its American origins – a loyalty that has lasted for more than 50 years. Then there is Starr’s own copy of the band’s 1968 double album “The Beatles,” commonly referred to as “The White Album” for its plain white cover, with only the group’s name embossed in raised letters and the serial number stamped into each copy—in Starr’s case, number 0000001. “I wanted to make it special,” Starr told The Times on Tuesday evening in a back room at Julien’s, flanked by Bach, her sister Marjorie, and Marjorie’s rock star husband, Eagles guitarist-singer-songwriter Joe Walsh. “So besides all the household goods, we’ve got John’s guitar he gave me all those years ago,” he said. “I played it a bit, but it’s been in a vault for 30 years. And in a glass case at the auction house was another precious item: the drummer’s original mono U.K. edition of the White Album, stamped with a serial number A0000001.

The watch is on a worn-in strap from famous London jeweler Asprey, indicating he may have purchased it there to begin with, adding value for collectors. It has spent some quality time on a turntable. “We used to play the vinyl in those days,” Starr told Rolling Stone. “We didn’t think, ‘We’ll keep it for 50 years and it will be in pristine condition.’ Whoever gets it, it will have my fingerprints on it.” The auction is the latest chapter in a season of looking back that began for Starr with “Ringo: Peace & Love,” a 2013 exhibition on his life at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. Last month, Julien’s sold a 1962 acoustic guitar of John Lennon’s for $2.4 million, triple the pre-auction estimate, while the Beatles “T-logo” drum head from their 1964 “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance fetched $2.1 million. Yes, crazed Beatles fans dueling with their auction paddles could easily have driven the price much higher, but those kinds of results only distort the market.

And that’s why I put some of the really good stuff in.” The beneficiary of the Dec. 3-5 auction, which a Julien’s representative said is expected to generate $4 million to $6 million, is the London-based Lotus Foundation that Starr and Bach set up in the wake of the 2004 tsunami that devastated vast areas of Southeast Asia. The price paid for this watch would be high without its provenance, but it seems like a reasonable premium (if one can even try to assess the value of such things).

The organization supports a variety of causes including homelessness, cancer, substance abuse, cerebral palsy, brain tumors, battered women and children and animals in need. It bills itself as “The Auction House to the Stars,” having sold Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket, one of Marilyn Monroe’s movie dresses and a guitar owned by Elvis. Looking at other celebrity watches for a sense of scale, an actual James Bond Rolex drew $365,000 last month at Phillips, and in 2012 a Heuer Monaco worn by Steve McQueen in Le Mans sold for almost $800,000, under two very different sets of conditions. They sometimes struggled with what property to release for auction. “Very difficult — we had to look at it all,” Starr said. “We had to say, ‘That’s going, that’s going, that’s not going, that’s going.’ …

Flip through one of the two online catalogs for this week’s sale and see the range of items, which appear like a magical mystery tour of Ringo’s career and life. Ringo’s Patek sits almost halfway between the two: The Bond watch doesn’t function and is just a movie prop at this point, but it was still sold at a dedicated watch auction, while the McQueen Monaco is a functioning timekeeper sold at a thematic auction of Hollywood memorabilia. John Lennon is known to have worn a yellow gold ref. 2499, which is a perpetual calendar chronograph (to one-up Ringo’s “basic” perpetual calendar). We didn’t think of that. … There are still some pieces we couldn’t let go of, but we’ve let go of all of this, and it makes a great effort for the first one.” In fact, the two-volume auction catalogue — which itself sells for $500 — lists items more than 650 pages. Going through his archives, much of which had remained in boxes for decades, Starr not only came up with dozens of items that were displayed in the Grammy Museum’s 2013-2014 show, he also turned up photographs that he assembled for his book “Photograph” that likewise generated money for the Lotus Foundation. “Someone was asking me about the drums — that IS the studio kit,” he said referring to the Ludwig set he used in dozens of Beatles recording sessions and many television appearances with the group. “The people who know, know it was on all those records.

We went to get a bit closer and they were like –” Starr raises his hands in a gesture of warning or resistance. “We said, ahh, letting go, eh?” Yet Walsh couldn’t help eyeing the Rickenbacker once so closely associated with Lennon, and the Gretsch that had been in Harrison’s hands so often. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

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