STAR-STUDDED CONCERT POSTER AUCTION FEATURES TROPHY PIECES SUCH AS BEATLES SHEA STADIUM, JIMI HENDRIX ‘FLYING EYEBALL’ AND MORE
During Heritage Auctions’ May 11-14 Music Memorabilia & Concert Posters Signature® Auction, nearly 100 concert posters graded CGC 9.6 or higher will take center stage across two days. Pete Howard, Heritage’s Director of Concert Posters, says value-wise, the auction is the largest concert poster event to ever hit an auction block, anywhere.
“I’m not one to hyperbolize,” Howard says. “I prefer to stay low-key and, as the saying goes, ‘under-promise and over-deliver.’ But it’s hard to stay modest and reserved about this one. Never mind what I think. I’ve heard from several key players in the hobby who have viewed our website that this will be the biggest concert poster sale ever.”
The auction kicks off May 11 with a stand-alone sale devoted to the David Swartz Concert Poster Collection, the largest and most valuable concert-poster collection in the world. Swartz’s pieces run the gamut from high-graded psychedelic posters to super-rare cardboard-boxing styles, and this event marks the collector’s auction debut. “The best of David’s psychs is likely the BG-105 Jimi Hendrix ‘flying eyeball’ masterpiece by artist Rick Griffin, in a breathtaking 9.8 Near Mint/Mint grade,” Howard says. “Never has a 9.8 of this super-popular poster ever been auctioned off publicly before. In fact, not even a 9.6 has. The poster was also beautifully signed in gold pen by its creator, Griffin, who passed away a third of a century ago, adding greatly to the piece’s rarity and desirability.”
Another of Howard’s favorites from the Swartz collection is the cardboard window card from when President John F. Kennedy appeared at New York’s Madison Square Garden and Marilyn Monroe seductively sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” The poster is one of only two known in collectors’ circles and lists talent such as Monroe, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Jack Benny and a host of others. “It’s a very rare poster,” Howard notes. “Its collectability encompasses not only entertainment and music but also politics, Americana and pop culture in general.”
Speaking of “pop,” another Swartz stunner is the famous Andy Warhol/Velvet Underground concert poster from The Trip on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip in 1966. “This highly in-demand poster carries a head-turning, best-ever 9.8 Near Mint/Mint grade,” Howard says. “It’s just remarkable that one still existed in this condition, and once again, outside of music, this poster crosses over into modern art and pop culture.”
The hits continue May 13, when the Beatles’ famous 1966 Shea Stadium concert poster appears at Heritage again. “This time it’s the first big one, which appeared on the scene a generation ago,” Howard says. “Back in 2004, this legendary poster sold for $132,736 at another auction house and sent the collecting world all atwitter. Heritage friend Jim Cook made that bold purchase, and it stood as the world record for any concert poster for many years. Then Heritage proceeded to break that record in recent times with additional specimens that came out of the woodwork, topping out at a magnificent $275,000 last spring. So, the question is, will this original big boy surpass that Shea highwater-mark? Stay tuned to find out.”
Like the Swartz auction, the May 13 auction is well balanced between psychedelic gems and cardboard boxing-style posters. In the former category, there’s an oversized Jimi Hendrix Experience 1968 concert poster from Stockholm, Sweden, with a stunningly clear photo of the group that Howard calls “an awesome piece to behold.” And in the latter category, there’s a 1957 Elvis Presley homecoming concert poster that came directly from the scrapbooks of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. “Talk about killer provenance,” Howard says. “It even carries a special letter stating this fact on no less than Graceland stationery.”
Throughout both days of the auction, a huge swath of other musicians and performers will be represented on a wide variety of rare concert posters, as well as smaller handbills. In addition to the above-mentioned talent, there are rare pieces from the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Hank Williams, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton, San Francisco Acid Tests, the Who, the Allman Brothers Band, Chuck Berry, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Cream, Ike & Tina Turner and many others.
“It’s going to be terrifically marvelous fun!” Howard predicts.