Bob Dylan’s handwritten manuscript for “Like a Rolling Stone” sold for just over $2 million US on Tuesday at Sotheby’s rock and roll auction, which also included memorabilia from the Beatles and Elvis Presley.
The price for the annotated lyrics for “Like a Rolling Stone,” considered one of the most influential songs in postwar music, makes it the most expensive rock music manuscript sold at auction.
It shattered the previous record set in 2010 when John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for “A Day in the Life”, the final track from the 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” sold for $1.2 million, according to Sotheby’s.
“Bob Dylan has a very enthusiastic collecting base,” said Richard Austin, Sotheby’s head of books and manuscripts. “It’s also the manuscript for the song that changed the course of a lot of popular music, it was a first six-minute single, and this is a song that took Bob Dylan electric. Rolling Stone voted it the No. 1 greatest rock song of all time, so it’s a tremendously important manuscript in the history of rock, in the history of ’60s music.”
The sale, called A Rock & Roll History: Presley to Punk, was Sotheby’s first dedicated music history auction in more than a decade. The total for all the sold lots was slightly more than $4 million.
Another item in the auction was Presley’s flamboyant peacock jumpsuit from his days performing in Las Vegas, which went to the highest bidder for $245,000.
“It was apparently his favorite stage jumpsuit and it was featured on the album cover of ‘Elvis Live and in Las Vegas’ and Elvis is another one that there are a lot of enthusiastic collectors for,” said Austin.
A Vox guitar organ, a hybrid instrument given to the Beatles by the inventor in 1964, brought in $305,000.
The 150 lots in the auction, which ranged in price from an estimated $200-$300 up $2 million for the Dylan lyrics, came from collectors and people who worked in the music industry.
Sotheby’s said it decided to hold the sale to test the market and to see what collectors are interested in buying.