The Beatles’ first contract with their long-standing manager Brian Epstein has sold for £275,000 at auction.
The document was the first of two contracts drawn up between Epstein and The Beatles before the four-piece found fame.
Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and original drummer Pete Best, signed the document on January 24 1962.
Months later, at the behest of Epstein, Ringo Starr replaced Best following the band’s first recording session at Abbey Road Studios in London.
Sotheby’s books and manuscripts specialist Gabriel Heaton said the contract captured a “transformative” moment in The Beatles’ careers.
He said: “This contract was a transformative document not only for The Beatles, but also for the 1960s and popular culture of the time.
“We feel extremely privileged to have offered such a significant piece of history, a document that set the band on a path that brought them a level of success and cultural influence that was surely beyond their dreams when they put pen to paper to entrust their future together to Brian Epstein on that January day in 1962.”
Epstein is credited with transforming the group from talented youngsters into bona fide recording artists.
He was responsible for finding the band work and publicity, and eventually secured them George Martin of the prestigious EMI group to produce their records.
The contract, however, was never signed by Epstein, often described as The Fifth Beatle.
Before his death in 1967 aged 32, he said he had chosen not to sign so The Beatles would not be bound to him.
He said: “It was because even though I knew I would keep the contract in every clause, I had not 100% faith in myself to help the Beatles adequately.
“In other words, I wanted to free the Beatles of their obligations if I felt they would be better off.”