Thursday, November 20, 2014

Artifacts: Beatles stock certificates authorizing same of NEMS

Up for bid at Heritage Auctions.

The death of Brian Epstein in August 1967 forever changed the Beatles' world. Gone was the man who singularly took care of all of their business (and many of their personal) needs and dealings. Gone also was the one individual whom the Beatles trusted implicitly to keep things moving, freeing them to become the artistic force that they were. And although their creativity and musical output remained undiminished, many historians put the "beginning of the end" of the group at Epstein's passing. The Beatles were now thrust into business dealings that formerly would have been handled by Brian, leading to differences in opinion among the members about their management needs, and their financial matters.

Beginning in 1962, the Beatles management contract was with Brian's company NEMS Ltd., and Brian later bestowed a minority ownership interest in the company to the four members. Upon Brian's death, his majority ownership stake in NEMS passed to his mother, Queenie Epstein, with the balance of ownership being held by his brother, Clive Epstein, the business manager of NEMS. With the group struggling to grasp the complexity and enormity of their business empire and unable to agree on their future management, Clive Epstein was approached by the British firm Triumph Investment Trust Ltd. with an offer to purchase NEMS (which by this time had been renamed Nemporer Holdings). After giving the Beatles the option to purchase the company themselves - for which they missed the deadline - an agreement to sell Nemporer to Triumph, for a mixture of cash and Triumph stock, was reached in April 1969.

This lot consists of six original certificates transferring the NEMS/Nemporer shares of each Beatle - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) - as well as Queenie Epstein and Clive Epstein, for the acquisition by Triumph. The certificates are dated April 1, 1969 (Clive Epstein), April 19, 1969 (Queenie Epstein), and July 30, 1969 for each of the four Beatles. The documents have been individually signed by each shareholder, and each details the amount of Nemporer shares exchanged, and the payment received for those shares. Various stamps, seals, and initialing by the parties involved are also present.

In all, this extremely rare and illuminating lot of business documents provides a glimpse into the non-public inner workings of the Beatles, at a time when the bonds that held them together were dissolving. Yet, they were still making incredible music. According to EMI logs, the date listed on the certificates signed by the Beatles, July 30, found the group at Abbey Road recording their swan song LP, named after the studio. Among the tracks worked on that day, perhaps tellingly, was "You Never Give Me Your Money".

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