Rare photos taken of The Beatles in their first concert ever in the USA, in Washington DC on February 11 1964 have sold for approximately $A3350,000. The Fab Four hit the stage at the Washington Coliseum two days after having played their legendary performance on the Ed Sullivan TV show which enthralled America and led to the onset of Beatlemania.
An 18 year old budding photographer by the name of Mike Mitchell managed to get just a few feet from the performers and captured some iconic shots. Previously only known to a few people, Christies Auction House auctioned 50 individual gelatin prints made from the negatives, which were expected to fetch $US100,000. Of little surprise to Beatles fans, the auction action hotted up and the photos eventually were knocked down for more than three times their estimate.
The black and white shots included a backlit shot taken by Mitchell standing behind the band which went for a cool $68,000 instead of the $2-3000 estimate, while a candid shot of Ringo Starr behind his kit raked in over $8,000 instead of the estimated $3-5,000. Mitchell, now aged 65 and working as an art photographer, marvels at the unrestricted access to the stage he received, explaining that it was just a rather primitive concert in a sports arena. He says “It was a long time ago. Things weren’t that way then. It was as low-tech as the concert itself. The concert was in a sports venue and the sound system was the sound system of a sports venue.”