Stuart Sutcliffe’s collection, who was the first bassist for the Beatles, is now available for purchase. The archive includes over 400 paintings and drawings, as well as remarkable Beatles memorabilia such as an incomplete novel about John Lennon.
Sutcliffe played a significant role in the formation of the Beatles. He became acquainted with John Lennon while they were both studying art in Liverpool. After joining Paul McCartney and George Harrison in the skiffle group, the Quarrymen, Sutcliffe and Lennon combined elements of Beat poetry and the band name of Buddy Holly’s group, the Crickets, to create the name of the Beatles.
The poetic, artistically gifted Sutcliffe paused his studies to go on the road with the band to a concert residency in a Hamburg nightclub. “History is my father and tomorrow is my son,” he wrote wistfully before leaving, and as the band became a sensation in the city, told his sister: “I’ve become very popular both with girls and homosexuals, who tell me I’m the sweetest, most beautiful boy.”
He encountered a frequent concert attendee, Astrid Kirchherr, and despite their language barrier, they fell in love. She also became the primary photographer for the Beatles during their early days. However, the band’s stay in Hamburg ended abruptly when McCartney and drummer Pete Best were deported after being arrested for suspected arson. They returned home, but went back for another stint in 1961. By then, Sutcliffe was engaged to Kirchherr and decided to leave the band to settle in Hamburg with her and focus on his studies in art. He had renowned pop artist Eduardo Paolozzi as one of his teachers.
Unfortunately, Sutcliffe’s life and professional journey came to an untimely end due to a brain haemorrhage at the young age of 21 in April 1962. However, during his brief time, he had created a considerable amount of visual art, focusing primarily on abstract expressionist paintings.
The artwork, as well as other items such as a letter written by Sutcliffe where he crossed out the Quarrymen’s name and replaced it with “Beatals”, is currently available for purchase. His estate is promoting it as a valuable opportunity for collectors to acquire the entire collection of Stuart Sutcliffe’s art and artifacts.
The description continues to elaborate on it.
This extensive collection contains more than 400 poetic pieces, many of which have been displayed in esteemed galleries and museums before. Along with the art, there are 200 accompanying documents, such as letters, poems, essays, and an unfinished novel centered around John Lennon. The collection tells a captivating story through 37 never-before-seen photographs, documenting the band’s early years in both England and Germany. Among these treasures are heartfelt letters exchanged between Sutcliffe, Lennon, and their closest friends, revealing the depth of their relationships and the intense creativity that fueled their iconic artistic path.
In an interview with Artnet, Diane Vitale, the administrator of the archive, stated that she hopes to preserve it in its entirety. She explained that Pauline, the previous manager who passed away in 2019, had always dreamed of keeping the archive together. However, it is possible that some of the artifacts may be donated to a museum or university, while the more prominent pieces (approximately 150) that have been extensively displayed, may be sold to a collector. This seems like a practical approach.
The collection is currently kept in East Hampton, New York and has been lent to various museums, including the Guggenheim in New York and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. According to Vitale, there have been many requests for the archive since it was listed on January 23rd.