Pattie Boyd to Auction Letters from George Harrison, Eric Clapton — Including Original 'Layla' LP Cover Art

Christie's Auction House is now listing more than 100 items from the collection of Pattie Boyd, former wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton. 

The auction includes photos and clothing, along letters the capture the love triangle between Boyd and the two musicians, and include artwork from both Harrison and Clapton. Also up for bid is the original cover art to the Derek and the Dominoes Layla album, by Théodore Frandsen de Schomberg, which Clapton gifted to George.

From an interview with Boyd on the Christie's site:

Boyd served as the inspiration for many of Harrison’s songs, including I Need You, For You Blue and Something, which Frank Sinatra called one of the greatest love songs ever written. She also played an important role in The Beatles’ adoption of vegetarianism, meditation and psychedelics, which took the couple from bars in London to ashrams in the Himalayas.

Things began to unravel around the time the couple moved into Friar Park, a Neo-Gothic mansion in Oxfordshire, in the spring of 1970. A letter arrived, which, in tiny, neat rows of words mostly missing their capital letters, read: ‘Dearest L, i am writing this note to you, with the main purpose of ascertaining your feelings towards a subject well known to both of us…’ It was signed ‘all my love, E.’

‘I had no idea it was from Eric. I thought it was a letter from a weird fan,’ Boyd recalls. ‘I even showed it to George!’ The penny dropped that evening, when Clapton called to ask Boyd if she had received any mail from him. ‘I said, “Oh my god, I didn’t realise it was from you!”

‘I have kept the letter ever since in a little box filled with trinkets and things, and when I was writing my autobiography, Wonderful Today, I brought it out. It’s a very beautifully written letter, but the writing is so small — it takes up not even a third of the page. It’s like he was rather shy about writing it. It’s like a whisper instead of a talk.’

The letter is one of several being offered online as part of The Patti Boyd Collection, which runs from 8 to 22 March 2024. The auction also includes song lyrics, photographs and handmade mementoes that offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives of some of music’s most influential and iconic figures.

...After Boyd and Harrison split, Clapton gifted the Beatle the painting La jeune fille au bouquet by Emile Théodore Frandsen de Schomberg, which had served as the album artwork for Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. The portrait of a blonde sitter with flowers in her hair, which Clapton associated with Boyd, was a form of compensation.

‘Eric had been recording Layla in the south of France when he saw this painting, and he fell in love with it,’ says Boyd. ‘He thought it represented Layla, and so asked the family who owned the painting if he could have it, and they said yes.’

Boyd married Clapton in 1979. Amazingly, the trio remained close friends, with Harrison even referring to Clapton as his ‘husband-in-law’.

Boyd was also the source of inspiration for Clapton’s songs Bell Bottom Blues, She’s Waiting and Wonderful Tonight. The latter he penned while Boyd was deciding what to wear for a party at Jimmy Page’s house. ‘I went downstairs rather sheepishly, expecting Eric to be furious with me for taking so long,’ she recalls. ‘Instead, he said, “Listen to what I’ve written”, and it was Wonderful Tonight. It was so magical.’

...Boyd adds that deciding to let go of the objects coming to auction at Christie’s has been a cathartic process. ‘I thought, “Do I need them? Do I need to keep going into Pandora’s Box?” I’ve enjoyed them for many, many years, and now it’s time for other people to see and enjoy them. It’s only right I should pass them on.’

The music, on the other hand, will remain with Boyd forever. ‘When Layla comes on the radio, it still gives me a jolt. It’s part of my being.’

You can see items from the collection here.