Dallas-based Heritage Auctions is handling the sale, which concludes on Nov. 6.
On Dec. 5, 20 years will have passed since Steve Blow, then a columnist for The Dallas Morning News, wrote a piece that brought together two unlikely entities — Beatles great George Harrison and First Baptist Dallas, which today has a congregation of more than 13,000 members.
Blow wrote about Dallas collector Charles Heard having acquired a New Testament Bible, one of several given to the Beatles during their only visit to Dallas on Sept. 18, 1964, less than a year after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Elm Street.
Fast forward to Nov. 6, 2021, when Heard’s prized possession will be sold at auction by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions. So far, the bidding has reached $3,000.
Heard told Blow that he bought the pocket-sized New Testament from another Beatles fanatic, a dentist in Little Rock, Ark., soon after the Arkansan purchased it in 2001.
“My husband and I are lifelong Beatles fans,” Sherry Heard, 60, said from the home in Lakewood she shares with her husband, 71, where the couple have lived for 30 years.
Their devotion to the Fab Four has taken them all over the world to see dozens of Paul McCartney concerts, where, during one once-in-a-lifetime show, the Beatles great invited them onstage. “Our favorite shared interest is our Beatles interest.”
Sherry Heard said they purchased the Bible “years ago, because of its tie to Dallas. We also love Dallas history. This was a nice tie-in for us because it was Dallas and the Beatles.”
“I am assuming that all four got a Bible,” Heard said in 2001. “But this is the only one known to still exist.” At the time Heard declined to say what he paid for it.
As Blow wrote, “The Bible is inscribed in the back in red pencil, in what appears to be a teen’s awkward cursive: ‘To George! From: Teenagers/First Baptist Church Dallas.”
But the front of the Bible carries an inscription from Harrison himself: “To Brian/Happy Birthday from George, Paul, Ringo & John.”
As Heard tells it, Epstein — the Beatles’ legendary manager — turned 30 the day after the Beatles’ concert in Dallas.
“Apparently George saved this Bible from the kids at First Baptist Church and presented it to Brian at that time,” Heard said in 2001.
“But here’s the kicker: Brian Epstein was Jewish. The New Testament was clearly given as a gag gift,” Heard said. “It just shows you the wicked, offbeat sense of humor that George had.”
So, why sell it? “It is time,” said Charles Heard, “to let somebody else enjoy it.”
Nearly 20 years ago, Heard shared with Blow how Harrison ended up with the rare gift from First Baptist Dallas. As Blow wrote: During their Dallas visit in 1964, “The boys were virtual prisoners inside their hotel the whole time. But somehow, some way the youth of Dallas’ First Baptist Church managed to deliver little New Testament Bibles to the Beatles.”
But, as Blow noted, “Brian apparently thought enough of the gift to keep it. The New Testament was among his possessions sold at auction in an estate sale after his death in 1967.”
As Heritage notes in its description of the Bible, “Epstein kept it from 1964 until his death, and it is referenced in the book, The Brain Epstein Story.”
At the time the Bible was sold at auction by Christie’s to the Little Rock dentist, it had belonged to Bryan Barrett, Epstein’s chauffeur and bodyguard for the last 14 months of his life.
“I’m not sure how the Bible was intended,” Heard said after acquiring it in 2001. “I can’t tell if it was just a friendly ‘Welcome to Dallas’ gift.
Soon after Blow’s column was published, The News received a letter to the editor that read: “At this moment I imagine George Harrison is wishing he had read that little New Testament instead of having given it away as a gag gift.”
The letter was signed by “Robert Jeffress, pastor, First Baptist Church, Wichita Falls.” The outspoken and often-controversial Jeffress, an ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is now the pastor of First Baptist Dallas and a Fox News contributor.
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