Rare Beatles photos go on sale today

Abbey Road 1

Six of the most iconic images of British pop culture auctioned off in London today

Abbey Road 1
Abbey Road 1

Six incredibly rare photographs of the Beatles‘ iconic Abbey Road crossing are being auctioned off at the Bloomsbury Auction house in London today.

Expected to fetch between £50,000 and £70,000, the full set of photos from which the legendary band chose their album cover is believed to be an auction first.

The image of the John, Paul, Ringo and George striding over Abbey Road became one of the most famous pieces of album artwork of all time, on their eleventh studio album, Abbey Road.

“They are incredibly rare,” said Sarah Wheeler, head of photography at Bloomsbury Auctions. “I’ve spoken to other music dealers and no one has been able to find a complete set on the market for at least 10 years.”

The photographer Iain Macmillan, a friend of Lennon and Yoko Ono, on 8 August 1969, apparently took the six shots in ten minutes (McCartney chose the fifth shot), with nothing but a Hasselblad camera and a stepladder.

In 1989 Iain Macmillan was quoted saying; “That photo’s been called an icon of the 60s. I suppose it is. I think the reason it became so popular is its simplicity. It’s a very simple, stylised shot. Also it’s a shot people can relate to. It’s a place where people can still walk.”

As well as the six front covers, Bloomsbury Auctions will be selling the back cover photograph, which Macmillan initially did not like; he was annoyed that a girl in a blue dress walked through his shot.

An album cover that has inspired countless imitations, it also advanced the rather ridiculous ‘Paul is Dead’ conspiracy theory, wherein it is suggested that at the time of the shoot Paul McCartney was in fact dead and had been replaced by a body double. According to the theorists, there were secret messages alluding to this in the cover, such as it having the air of a funeral procession and featuring Paul holding his cigarette in his right (wrong) hand.

Abbey_Road-2
Photo by Iain Macmillan, courtesy of Bloomsbury Auction House
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Photo by Iain Macmillan, courtesy of Bloomsbury Auction House
Abbey_Road-4
Photo by Iain Macmillan, courtesy of Bloomsbury Auction House
Abbey_Road-5
Photo by Iain Macmillan, courtesy of Bloomsbury Auction House
Abbey_Road-6
Photo by Iain Macmillan, courtesy of Bloomsbury Auction House
Abbey_Road-7
Photo by Iain Macmillan, courtesy of Bloomsbury Auction House

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