Alan Livingston, |
One of the most significant discoveries ever
of rare records:
A full box of first state unopened
Over the years there have been many great finds for Beatles record collectors, but probably the most significant was the discovery ten years ago of what ended up to be twenty-four original sealed first state Butcher cover albums. Prior to this, there were only TWO known sealed stereo copies, and perhaps a half dozen monos in collectors' hands. That was until Thanksgiving weekend at the 1986 Los Angeles Beatlefest convention. It was there that Peter Livingston, son of 1960's Capitol Records President Alan Livingston (who signed the Beatles to Capitol), walked into the dealer room carrying four original first state Butcher cover albums - two stereos and two monos.
After seeing other dealers arguing and challenging his credentials, Peter became frustrated and said that for proof he could reach his father, Alan at his home in Beverly Hills. Perry Cox, along with Gary Johnson (of Rockaway Records) and Doug Leftwich (owner of Rave Up Records) all followed Peter to a phone booth right outside the dealer room as Peter prepared to call his father. Perry, having no doubt whatsoever, instantly negotiated a purchase for one of the two stereo copies, before Peter even made the phone call, forking over a cool $2,500.00. After witnessing this first sale, crowds quickly grew around Peter as word spread. The asking price for the mono copies was $1,000. Within a matter of minutes, both mono copies were sold to collector's Gary Smith of Oregon and John Hansman of Washington. By this time the other skeptical dealers were ready to buy, but it was too late. Peter decided to hold onto the remaining stereo copy. Stored back at his fathers house, Peter had about 18 more monos and 3 stereos (one of the stereo copies was open and had a seam split). Just one week later, his asking prices skyrocketed to $2,000 for mono copies and $10,000 for the stereos!
At the time of the recall in 1966, Alan Livingston took home a full box of the albums - 4 stereo and approximately 20 mono - from the inventory that was to have had the new trunk cover pasted over. Stored in a closet under ideal conditions, these LP's were never touched and did not see the light of day for twenty years, at which time Alan gave them to his son Peter "to do with as you please". What is most impressive is the fact that nearly every copy was not only sealed, but in near-perfect condition - with flawless corners, unscuffed pristine shrinkwrap, and pure white covers. For authentication and proof-of-source purposes, Peter had several notarized letters from his father (one of which is shown below) that were given with each LP that was sold.
In the months ahead, under pressure and high demand from collectors, Peter slowly sold the remaining mono copies to a few different dealers, and by this time the price had risen to $3,000. At one point, Santa Monica area (California) collector negotiated a deal directly with Peter for one of the monos, and when he went over to Alan's house to pick the album up, Alan inadvertently gave him a stereo copy for the price of a mono. The collector didn't say anything about the error, and soon after sold the stereo LP to a Japanese collector for $15,000.00.
Once word got out to long-time collectors, and with demand and popularity continuously increasing, more copies changed hands and the price for monos in the next few years zoomed to $5000. A stereo copy did not change hands until the early 1990's when one of the sealed copies was offered and sold to a Washington USA collector for $20,000 cash, a world-record price. Not only was it one of the three sealed stereo Livingston copies, but it was the best of the lot - a 100% mint flawless copy, which still to this day is the best in existence, it has to be.
In 1994 this copy was re-sold for $25,000, and remains in a California collection, of which the proud owner has vowed it will never be offered for sale. Around the same time, a collector contacted Alan to see how his son was doing, as he had heard Peter was very ill. Mr. Livingston informed him that Peter had recently passed away. Shocked and saddened, the collector later asked about the remaining "Butcher covers" and Alan told him that he had two stereo copies left, offering them to the collector for $7,500. One of the copies was the opened copy (with seam split) and the other a sealed copy, which the buyer later re-sold for $25,000. To this day, Alan and Peter's widow have kept a mono copy each.
In the past 10 years, very few of the Livingston copies have changed hands, as this is an item most owners consider the ultimate Beatle record to own. The Livingston issues are now considered pedigree copies, significant not only for their incredible condition but for the source and original owner being the former president of Capitol. The last reported sale, for a perfect mono copy, was for nearly $7,000 in 1996. In comparison, the first known sealed butcher cover album to be sold on the collectors market was in 1974, when veteran collector Jerry Osborne auctioned a mono copy amongst thousands of other assorted albums and 45's. Collector Mitch McGeary won the bid, paying the then tidy sum of $456! It was sold a few years later for $800.00.
During the past several years, there have been no reported sales of any Livingston copies. A beautiful 99% mint non-Livingston sealed mono copy turned up in August 1997 and was sold for $5,500. Just 3 years later it sold for double that amount. Today, as we enter 2000, the market value for all 24 of the Butchers from the Livingston collection is an astounding $300,000+ !! Who would have ever dreamed?
Shown below is the letter of authenticity that accompanied the original LPs of this unique, significant, and important discovery, followed by a biography on Mr. Alan Livingston.
|President of Capitol Records|
who signed the Beatles to Capitol
Alan W. Livingston started his career in the entertainment business leading his own college orchestra as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. He was graduated from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce with a B.S. in Economics, and obtained his first position with Capitol Records, Inc., as a writer-producer. His initial assignment was to start a children's record library, for which he created the now well-known character Bozo The Clown, and wrote and produced the first album, "Bozo At The Circus". He wrote and produced many others, including product for Walt Disney, Woody Woodpecker, Bugs Bunny and all of the Warner Bros. characters. In the case of the latter, he wrote the song which became a pop hit, "I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat".
Livingston moved on to the musical area. He was responsible for signing Frank Sinatra when Sinatra was at a low ebb in his career in the early 1950's. Within a few years he became Vice President in charge of all creative operations of the company, and has been credited as the creative force responsible for its growth from net sales of $6 million per year to sales in excess of $100 million per year.
After ten years, Livingston left Capitol Records to accept a position as President of California Productions, the wholly-owned film production subsidiary of the National Broadcasting Company. Shortly thereafter, he was also named Vice President of NBC, in charge of television network programming, dealing principally with all films made for the network. In this capacity he produced the pilot for "Bonanza", most successful series in the history of the company. During this time he also served on the Boards of Bob Hope Enterprises, Inc., and Joseph Mankiewicz' motion picture production company, Figaro, Inc.
Five years later Capitol Records induced him to return as President, and eventually Chairman of the Board. He was also named to the Board of Electric and Musical Industries (EMI), a British corporation which was the largest stockholder in Capitol. Subsequently, he merged Capitol Records into Audio Devices, Inc., a magnetic tape manufacturer listed on the American Stock Exchange, and changed the name of the surviving company to Capitol Industries, Inc., of which Livingston was named President. It was during this period that he turned Capitol Records into a more rock-oriented company with such artists as the Beach Boys, Steve Miller, The Band, and others. His most noteworthy accomplishment at that time was signing The Beatles for Capitol and bringing them to the United States.
Livingston later sold out his stock in Capitol Industries to form his own company, Mediarts, Inc., for the production of motion pictures, records and music publishing. He eventually sold his interest in that company to United Artists, as a result particularly of its success in the record business, including Don McLean, who reached the No. 1 position in the country with his "American Pie" single and album. Two feature pictures were completed during the company's operation; "Downhill Racer", starring Robert Redford and Gene Hackman, and "Unman, Wittering & Zigo", starring David Hemmings, both released by Paramount.
In August 1976, Livingston joined Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation as Senior Vice President and President, Entertainment Group. He left Fox in 1980 to accept the presidency of Atalanta Investment Company, Inc. and resigned in 1987 to produce a one-hour film for television, and to form Pacific Rim Productions, Inc.
Livingston has also written a novel which was published by Ballantine Books in the Spring of 1988, and which currently is in pre-production for a feature motion picture.
Livingston is married to actress Nancy Olson. They reside in Beverly Hills, California.
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