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THE BEATLES’ ABBEY ROAD PHOTOGRAPHS SELL FOR £180,000

A complete set of Abbey Road Session outtakes and the final cover shot for The Beatles Abbey Road album sold for £180,000 in the sale of Photographs & Photobooks at Bloomsbury Auctions 

How much would you pay for a photo of John, George, Paul and Ringo strolling over a zebra crossing? Recently, four bidders fought for The Beatles’ classic Abbey Road photographs, with the final bid coming in at a hefty £180,000. 

Captured by photographer Iain Macmillan on 8th August 1969, the Abbey Road shot went on to become one of the most recognisable album covers in music history. The concept was actually devised by Paul McCartney, who sketched out the cover idea for Macmillan before the shoot. On the day, Macmillan was given just 10 minutes by local police as the band held up traffic walking back and forth over the zebra crossing. He managed to snap just six shots, the fifth being selected by Paul McCartney for the final album cover.

The chosen cover had such an impact that it spawned its own conspiracy theory. Some speculated that Paul McCartney had passed away in a road accident and was subsequently replaced by a look-alike. According to those who spread the urban-legend, the Abbey Road shot is filled with ‘clues’ about Paul’s supposed death. Of course, there was nothing to it, given that Sir Paul is still alive and well today. 

Edward Dimsdale, Senior Lecturer, Photographic Theory at University of the Arts, London said of the photograph, ‘encapsulating a significant cultural moment, it is an image that launched a notorious conspiracy theory, and that clearly still provides a touchstone for fans. The opportunity to see the image in close relation to the only other frames originally shot by the photographer is undoubtedly instructive. By judgment or serendipity (or more likely a bit of both), Macmillan was able to seize upon an instant that continues to have the power to resonate, forty-five years on.’

The Photographs & Photobooks sale was held at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions saleroom in London’s Mayfair on Friday 21st November. The full catalogue and prices realised are available to view and download at bloomsburyauctions.com.

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