The “butcher” cover of ‘Yesterday and Today’ showed the iconic band covered in raw meat and decapitated baby dolls before it was withdrawn from sale in 1966.
The cover shot was taken by Australian photographer Robert Whitaker and sparked outrage upon release in the US – where it was suggested that it was a protest against the Vietnam War.
Yesterday, John Lennon’s own copy sold to an anonymous American collector at The Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool as part of a wider sale of their merchandise.
At the time of release, the graphic image was replaced by a cover that showed the band standing around a travel trunk. It was said to be the only Beatles album to lose money for Capitol Records.
SOLD for £179,200! A Yesterday and Today album (1966) a U.S. First State Butcher, owned and signed by John Lennon with original artwork and addtl signatures! Sold today in our Music Icons: The Beatles auction! https://t.co/ahsXX38A8G #TheBeatles #Memorabilia #Auction #JohnLennon pic.twitter.com/Ujz8CIYDKy
— Juliens Auctions (@JuliensAuctions) May 9, 2019
Lennon’s copy previously adorned the wall of his New York apartment until he gifted it to Dave Morrell, a lifelong Beatles fan and bootleg collector.
With signatures by Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, it is is believed to be the only “butcher” album featuring three Beatles’ signatures.
In a statement, a spokesman for Julien’s Auctions said the American collector had “bought the record as an investment believing it will increase in value in the years to come”.
Darren Julien, president of the firm, said: “The market is still developing so we anticipate in the next five years this same record could bring $500,000-plus (£385,000)”.
He added: “This was a world record for a Beatles butcher cover and the third-highest price paid for a vinyl.”
Other items to go under the hammer included a baseball signed by the band at their final US performance – which fetched £57,600 ($75,000).
This comes after Ringo Starr’s rare copy of The White Album became the most expensive vinyl in 2015, when it sold for $790,000 (£ 522,438).