A previously unknown treasure trove of 6,000 artifacts from Bob Dylan‘s private collection – including handwritten lyrics, contracts and private letters alongside video and audio recordings – has been sold by the artist to the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Tulsa for an estimated $15 to $20 million. Most of it will housed at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, though access to it will largely be restricted to scholars and Dylan experts. Plans are still up in the air, but highlights from the collection will likely be displayed to the public in the near future.
The New York Times was given an exclusive preview of the collection, which includes Dylan’s original Blood On The Tracks notebooks, handwritten lyrics to “Chimes of Freedom,” “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Dignity” and footage of the artist performing at Toronto’s Massey Hall in 1980, New York’s Supper Club in 1993 and rehearsing for the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue. There’s also a manuscript of his 1971 book Tarantula, hundred of tape reels and a 1978 postcard from Barbra Streisand.
George B. Kaiser, the chairman of the BOK Financial Corporation, provided the majority of the funds for the deal, which was brokered by Glenn Horowitz, a New York-based rare book dealer. The collection is estimated to be worth more than $60 million, and since Dylan sold it for about a third of that, he will likely be able to claim it as a significant charitable donation for tax purposes.
While private artifacts from major rock acts like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who have been sold at auction houses for decades, Dylan has largely kept his items out of the public eye. Two years ago, a handwritten copy of “Like a Rolling Stone” sold for more than $2 million and the electric guitar he sold at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival sold for nearly $1 million in 2013. The Dylan camp eventually hired an archivist to sort through his private collection and brought in Horowitz to reach out to prospective buyers.
Dylan has rarely discussed his creative process with any depth, though that hasn’t stopped a flood of books from hitting the market analyzing each song in incredible detail. But now, Dylan experts have a previously unimaginable resource to tap into when penning future volumes about the artist’s work.