Lawyers representing the late singer's estate dispute Beverly Martyn's claim she is the legal owner of demo tapes

Six previously unheard Nick Drake recordings have been removed from auction following a row over their ownership.

As previously reported, the tapes have been described as being in “pristine” condition and were recorded in 1968, before the 1969 release of the iconic folk singer’s debut album ‘Five Leaves Left’. The recordings were placed on auction by his friend, the singer Beverley Martyn, who was married to the late John Martyn.

However, as The Guardian reports, lawyers representing the late singer’s estate and his record company have questioned Martyn’s ownership and the sale has been postponed. The tapes were due to be sold on Thursday (July 31).

Martyn has said that she is selling the tapes because of failing health. The recordings were being sold by London-based auction house Ted Owen and were expected to make at least £250,000. The tapes feature versions of his songs ‘Fruit Tree’, ‘Saturday Sun’ and ‘Cello Song’.

“I looked after them for 38 years, treasured them,” said Martyn, stating that she believes she is the rightful owner of the tapes. “I know the person who made the tape and they are happy for me to have it. The Drake family even offered to buy it off me eight years ago for £2,000.” Owen is confident that the sale will go ahead in October, following the conclusion of the legal action.

Earlier this year an unheard Nick Drake song was posted online, almost 40 years after the cult songwriter’s death. ‘Restless Jane’ is a collaboration with Beverley Martyn. The track was written and recorded in Martyn’s home in Hastings in early 1974, making it one of the final songs Drake wrote before dying of an overdose of antidepressants in November that year, aged 26. The track featured on Martyn’s album ‘The Turtle And The Phoenix’, which was released in April.