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Toll Road: The Beatles’ unused Abbey Road photos sell for quarter-million dollars


Today is Pete Best’s 73rd birthday, and unfortunately, we have some more bad news for the original drummer of the Beatles. A collection of six unused photos from the band’s iconic 1969 Abbey Road cover shoot has sold at auction for more than a quarter-million dollars, according to the NME.

The exact price came in at £180,000 at Bloomsbury Auctions in London, the publication reports.

The images were taken on August 8, 1969, and photographer Iain Macmillan famously had only about 10 minutes to complete the shoot. Six images were taken in total, including a “scenery shot” of the Abbey Road sign and the actual image that would grace the Beatles record, which would be released in September 1969, remain the band’s best-selling album, and be the only original UK Beatles album sleeve to omit the artist name and title on its cover.


Here’s more from the NME:

“This set of photographs has triggered a brilliant reaction from the market,” said Sarah Wheeler of Bloomsbury Auctions. “It has been a pleasure to share them with the public at our sale rooms, even for a short time, and a delight to see them attain such a worthy price today.”

Edward Dimsdale, Senior Lecturer of Photographic Theory at University Of The Arts London, added: “Encapsulating a significant cultural moment, it is an image that launched a notorious conspiracy theory, and that clearly still provides a touchstone for fans. The opportunity to see the image in close relation to the only other frames originally shot by the photographer is undoubtedly instructive. By judgment or serendipity (or more likely a bit of both), Macmillan was able to seize upon an instant that continues to have the power to resonate, 45 years on.”


The sale was made over the phone to an overseas buyer. The collection was originally given a sales estimate of between £50,000–£70,000.

Here’s a look at the images: