The Beatles' first contract with Brian Epstein could fetch 6-figure bid at auction

With this piece of Beatles history, fans of Liverpool's hottest rock band can go back in time to where the magic began.

The Beatles' first contract with manager Brian Epstein, signed on Jan. 24, 1962, is reportedly going up for sale at Sotheby's auction house next month. The document contains the signatures of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and original drummer Pete Best, who was later replaced by Ringo Starr.

"[Epstein] was just blown away by the passion, the energy, the charisma, the raw sexuality on stage," Gabriel Heaton, a specialist at the Sotheby's auction house, told the BBC on Friday. "They had the stage energy but he instilled a sense of professionalism in them."

The contract is the one of two copies the band signed with Epstein — who said he notably didn't sign the first copy to give The Beatles a free out if they could strike a better deal. At the time, Epstein's choice to leave his signature line blank put some of the bandmates on edge.

His personal assistant once explained the mood in Best's mother's house, where the group signed the agreement, suddenly shifted from excited to anxious.

"Even though I knew I would keep the contract in every clause, I had not 100 percent faith in myself to help The Beatles adequately," Epstein later said in his autobiography.

Sotheby's listing on its auction house website. (

Sotheby's listing states the initial contract entitled Epstein to 10 percent of the band's profits, with a clause that stated that percentage would be bumped to 15 if The Beatles began earning more than $150 a week. McCartney apparently bargained with Epstein to bring down his initial request of a 20 percent cut.

According to the BBC, the 7-page contract is estimated to fetch about $380,000. The proceeds will benefit The Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation, Sotheby's says.

Heaton said Epstein's faith — and direction — in the band helped the group flourish.


"[Epstein] stopped them eating on stage," Heaton added to the BBC. "He made sure they played the songs properly and coherently, and he got them bowing at the end of a set."