A chunk of backdrop wall from the Ed Sullivan Theater signed by the Beatles during their famous debut on The Ed Sullivan Show will go to auction in New York City this April, the Associated Press reports.
Autographed, from top to bottom, by Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney (referring to himself as “Uncle”) and John Lennon, each Beatle accompanied their signature with a goofy doodle, while someone also scrawled “The Beatles Were Here.” The 4-foot-by-2-foot plastic wall will be sold on April 26th through Dallas-based auction house Heritage Auctions and is expected to fetch between $800,000 and $1 million. It also features the signatures of 1960s British pop group The Searchers.
The group reportedly inked the wall in between songs during their February 9th, 1964 appearance, the first night of their three-night stand on Sullivan.
“It was a spur of the moment thing,” said Jerry Gort, a former Sullivan Show stagehand who was there that night. “They came down from stage right from their dressing rooms, I gave them a marker and asked them to sign the wall.” Gort added that Starr, who signed at the top of the wall, was so short that he needed Gort to wrap his arms around the drummer and lift him up. Immediately after, Starr “made a mad dash to get to his drums” in time to play “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
While the wall was initially destined for the garbage, a carpenter reportedly saved it for a young disabled fan. Its history after that point is a bit hazy – it supposedly hung in a Baton Rouge bar at one point – but in 2002, it was bought by current owner Andy Geller for $100,000.
If the price tag is a little much, you’ll be able to check out the wall on display at Heritage Auctions’ Park Avenue gallery. The autographed section arrives just in time for this week’s Beatles celebrations around the 50th anniversary of their American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Other festivities include a week-long tribute on the Late Show with David Letterman – which films in the Ed Sullivan Theater – featuring Beatles covers from Broken Bells, Sting, the Flaming Lips and Sean Lennon, Lenny Kravitz and Lauryn Hill.
The Beatles will also be honored with a historical marker at New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport where they landed 50 years ago. And this Sunday, CBS will air The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles, an event that took place last month and included a rare performance from Starr and McCartney alongside tributes from Stevie Wonder, Dave Grohl, Katy Perry, Pharrell, John Legend, Gary Clark, Jr. and the recently reunited Eurythmics.