Peace, Love and Hope for the Future. A Beatles Fairy Tale.
Some hope for the future,
Some wait for the call
To say that the days ahead
Will be the best of all.
–Paul McCartney, “Hope for the Future.”
While November 1 marked the successful ending of our quests for The Beatles’ autographs, it also meant that we had just a few weeks until the East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity’s Home Is Where the Art Is auction and gala, leaving much work still to be done.
As the art auction committee worked to finalize details for the newly themed, “Peace, Love and Hope for the Future” gala, I reached out to several national auction houses in anticipation of listing the autographed Beatles themed piano.
Though our journey had been documented extensively, the auction house with which we were working advised us that Certificates of Authenticity for each of the autographs and an official appraisal were required before they could accept the listing.
It would be about a month after the signings, following ongoing communications with both of the musicians’ representatives, that we would celebrate the receipt of the required Certificates of Authenticity, post-gala.
Securing an appraiser has proven a bit trickier.
I reached out to a colleague who is very well connected in the music industry to request recommendations, and was advised that one of the nation’s most renowned Beatles authoritarians is Bruce Spizer, who, to our great fortune, happens to live in New Orleans.
A quick search on the web provided a jaw-dropping list of credentials that I happily shared with Habitat’s President and CEO, Debbie Crouch, whose reaction was the same as mine. This appeared to be another of the countless Destiny kisses that had blessed us throughout this escapade.
We were delighted when Mr. Spizer accepted an invitation to join us at the gala, to take a look at the piano for a possible appraisal, and to share a bit of Beatles insight with the event guests. He advised, after seeing the piano, that he was not quite comfortable providing an appraisal, as there was no basis to which the item could be compared to adequately determine its value.
“I don’t think you realize the magnitude of what you all have pulled off,” he said. “You probably won’t fully grasp it for another six months or so. You’ve really made the impossible happen.”
This was Bruce Spizer, who has authored eight books about The Beatles, served as a consultant to EMI and Apple Records for the American configurations of The Fab Four’s catalog re-releases and penned the text for the companion booklets for several of the band’s box sets. Additionally, he was selected to write questions for a special Beatles edition of the Trivial Pursuit board game. Though we were in awe of his achievements, he was expressing amazement that we had actually pulled off our mission.
While collectively, we had celebrated the acquisition of the signatures, the follow up work and gala preps really hadn’t left much time for letting it all sink in. The piano that the East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity had paid Lori Gomez to restore and paint had now been signed by the two surviving Beatles. Though it’s well known that neither of the musicians grants autograph requests, in what could be explained only as Divine Intervention, both had agreed, after extensive correspondences with their representatives, to set aside those policies when learning of our mission. The approvals were granted only after assurances that no one, other than the veterans benefiting from the cause, would profit from the sigs.
The piano is possibly the only recently created original artwork that both of the surviving Beatles have signed, and, given that the two musicians do not tour together, could possibly be the last item collectively autographed by the two.
In the past few weeks, not only had we been granted the privilege of meeting and chatting with both Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, but we also had enjoyed complimentary tickets to their concerts, plus the opportunity to attend Sir Paul’s sound check. The story was featured on the front page of numerous local publications, but in respecting the terms of our agreement with Sir Paul’s representative, the push for national coverage was delayed until we received approval to distribute such (which finally was granted several weeks after the gala.)
The Times-Picayune reporter Sarah Bonnette’s story was picked up by the national news wire, and I continued the outreach to media outlets and Beatles fan sites throughout the United States and beyond. ABC News Radio picked up the story and shared with its affiliates. And the story landed front page news coverage in numerous regional publications. In all, the news blitz has provided tremendous exposure for both the artist and the cause, with additional coverage still to come.
It is our hopes that this extensive publicity will assist toward finding the perfect buyer for the one-of-a kind-treasure—someone who will recognize not only the significance of the autographed work of art, but also the philanthropic value of the cause: providing affordable homes for deserving veterans.
As of the time of this posting, we are still working on the unexpectedly challenging task of securing an appraiser so that we can move forward with the auction listing.
And so the final chapter is not yet written, but hopefully will be completed by late January or early February of 2015, some five months after this story began. We eagerly are awaiting the successful auction of the piano, and the celebration of the families who will benefit as a result, via the local Habitat Veterans Build. Other than the $3,000 artist’s stipend and the auction house fees, 100% of proceeds are dedicated to the Veteran’s Build project.
With that, the beginning of the new year will mark the end of the epic adventure of a lifetime, a story to be passed down to our children and grandchildren, and subsequent generations.
The stars aligned. All the dots were connected. And the dream became a reality.
So once again, it seems only fitting to ask the very question that started this whole journey.
Do you believe in Destiny? I do.