It was a sentimental gift, bought at a charity auction with the blessing of The Beatles and legendary producer Sir George Martin.But now a highly sought after piece of Beatles memorabilia–an original Eleanor Rigby score penned by Sir George— has emerged as the subject of an extraordinary dispute involving relatives of the man he gifted it to. Colin Sanders, a world renowned musical entrepreneur and founder of the mixing console manufacturer Solid State Logic (SSL), is understood to have won the score from the band several years after the song’s release.
Now, however, the much cherished heirloom has become centre of a bizarre whodunit involving his widow, Dr Rosemary Sanders, and their adopted daughter, Terri-Louise. The controversy arose after the rare manuscript, signed by Sir George and Sir Paul McCartney, turned up for sale at an obscure Warrington-based auction house.
After learning of its disappearance, Dr Sanders contacted Omega Auctions, a specialist in music memorabilia, and claimed ownership. The auction house was forced to pull the lot hours before it was due to go on auction.
The score is only of only two known to have been written by Sir George; the original was left to his daughter, Alexis Stratfold, when he died last year. It was until Monday advertised alongside a collection of rare Beatles memorabilia, and had been valued at £20,000. Dr Sanders has also alerted Thames Valley Police, which is now attempting to determine the manuscript’s true ownership and how it came to be consigned for sale.
When approached by The Daily Telegraph for comment, Dr Sanders said that the score had been won by her late husband at a charity auction and had been passed to her after his death in 1998 in a helicopter accident. “My late husband won it at a charity auction,” she said. “He knew Sir George well, they used to move in the same circles. They [The Beatles] would come to parties occasionally. “He went to Abbey Road as well, and of course some of the studio was fitted out by SSL.” A spokeswoman for Omega Auction confirmed that the score was no longer for sale. “Having been contacted by his widow, Dr Rosie Sanders, it is understood that she is the rightful owner of the score and has no wishes to part with it”. She revealed that the score had been consigned for sale by someone claiming to be Colin Sanders’ daughter Terri-Louise, adding that the auction house had understood that ‘Terri-Louise’ had inherited it from her father and was therefore entitled to sell it.
However when approached by The Daily Telegraph last night Ms Sanders denied any knowledge of the incident, saying she had never approached the auction house about any potential sale.
It is understood that Dr Sanders reported the incident to Thames Valley Police. She declined to comment further, but said that the ordeal had been “distressing” for the family.’
A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police said: “On 8 Sept we were called by a resident of Souldern near Bicester regarding a dispute over of piece of music memorabilia. We are currently investigating this matter.”