Rarest Beatles Record for Sale

The Beatles album, “Yesterday and Today,” considered to be the “rarest Beatles record in the world” by musicologists is for sale. Fans of the Beatles can own a rare piece of the group’s memorabilia if they have a few hundred thousand dollars to spare.

Why is the record rare?

This particular edition of “Yesterday and Today” features the Beatles holding cuts of meat and dismembered dolls. It’s commonly referred to as the “Butcher Edition.” The record is rare because distribution came to a halt in 1966 making it hard to find and therefore, valuable.

Another reason why the item is rare is because John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr all signed the record. It’s widely regarded as the only original edition of an album three members of the band have ever signed, making the record even more valuable.

"Yesterday and Today" album cover by the Beatles
“The Butcher” version of the album cover for “The Beatles” album “Yesterday And Today” which was released on June 14, 1966. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr. | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

“There is no Beatles album in the world that compares with this one in terms of both rarity and value,” Gary Hein, an expert on the Beatles told Caters News. “This important, world-class pop culture piece would add significantly to any Beatles collector, art, pop culture or record collector’s collection,” Hein added.

John Lennon’s personal copy up for sale

The item for sale is Lennon’s personal copy of the record. He wrote a note on the album cover when he gifted it to Dave Morrell, an avid collector of Beatles memorabilia, in 1971. The handwritten note says, “To Dave, from John Lennon, Dec. 7th, 1971.” Before he gave the record to Morrell, Lennon had the item in his New York City apartment.

Where will the record be up for auction?  

The record will be auctioned off at The Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool, England, according to the New York Post.

How much is the album expected to make at auction?

Julien’s Auctions expects the rare item to go for anywhere from $160,000 to $180,000.  

Story behind the ‘Butcher Edition’

Robert Whitaker, an Australian photographer, came up with the idea for the “Butcher Edition” cover.  The 26-year-old photographer had a new concept for the Beatles when they showed up at his London studio on March 25, 1966.

“I got fed up with taking squeaky-clean pictures of the Beatles, and I thought I’d revolutionize what pop idols are,” Whitaker explained to author Jon Savage, according to Rolling Stone. Featuring the band with raw meat and dismembered dolls would surely shake up the way people viewed the Beatles.

Robert Whitaker, photographer.
Photographer Robert Whitaker poses in front of his photographic exhibition during the events to mark the 40th anniversary of the Beatles’ 1966 visit to Tokyo at the Capitol Tokyu Hotel on July 1, 2006, in Tokyo, Japan. | Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

“All over the world I’d watched people worshiping like gods, four Beatles,” he said. “To me, they were just stock standard, normal people. But this emotion that fans poured on them made me wonder where Christianity was heading.”

Whitaker had a lot of history with the Beatles by the time he took the “Butcher Edition” image in 1966. He’d photographed them on many occasions, including at their historic Shea Stadium performance. Whitaker’s also responsible for another iconic image featuring one of the Beatles. He took the shot of Lennon with the dandelion over his eye.