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Never-before-seen Beatles photos sell for more than $350,000

By Leigh Remizowski, CNN
  • The biggest sellers include a close-up of John Lennon and Paul McCartney
  • The auction was expected to bring in about $100,000
  • The photographer behind the show was 18 when he took the pictures
  • They include group shots, close-ups and photos without any faces

New York (CNN) -- A collection of 46 never-before-seen photos from The Beatles' first concerts in the United States was auctioned off for more than $350,000 at a New York auction house on Wednesday.

The evening's biggest sellers included a close-up of John Lennon and Paul McCartney singing into a microphone, which sold for $30,000 and an image of the four Beatles shot from behind, which went for $68,500.

The auction, held at Christie's in Manhattan, was expected to bring in about $100,000, but the grand total ended up being $361,938.

The Washington, D.C.-based photographer behind the show was 18 when he took the photos.

Mike Mitchell, who is now 65, said that the thought of someday auctioning off the photos for such a large sum had never crossed his mind as a rookie photographer vying for a press pass to see the Fab Four.

"Nobody knew where The Beatles would go," he said. "They kind of marched and everybody fell in step behind them."

When Mitchell heard The Beatles were making their first trip across the Atlantic, he managed to get a press pass from a magazine he worked for.

"I had realized that the camera was really a ticket to a lot of places one might not be able to go otherwise," he said.

Some of the photos that were auctioned off were taken on Feb. 11, 1964, at the Washington Coliseum -- The Beatles' first concert in the United States. The others were taken at the Baltimore Civic Center in September of that year.

Mitchell chose the 46 photos to be auctioned from about 450 negatives that had been collecting dust since the 1964 concerts.

He chose group shots, close-ups and even photos without any faces.

One of his favorite photos is an image of Ringo Starr's jeweled hands. Another is a photo of one of The Beatles' boots on a stage littered with jelly beans.

Mitchell had to scan and restore the photos for the auction.

"I had to remove all the dust and scratches that had accumulated over that time," he said. He decided to release the photos because "it was time," he said.

Cathy Elkies, director of iconic collections at Christie's, said she was nervous going into the auction because Mitchell was a relatively unknown name, but that the photographs and their subjects spoke for themselves.

"They are beautiful, they are intimate, they are evocative," she said. "And the fact that he was 18 just is really a very sobering idea."

And the fact that the photos had never been seen added to the success of the auction, Elkies said.

"Beatles fans just think they've seen it all so to have the opportunity to bring something to market that was never seen before was great," she said.