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The Sgt Pepper Cut-Outs That Turn Cardboard Into Gold

Two original cardboard cut-outs used on the cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band could fetch fab prices when they come up for sale this month.

The figures of Hollywood legend Tony Curtis, and the slightly less well-known Canadian child star Bobby Breen, are set to hit the auction block in the U.S, where they could sell for more than $50,000 each.

As the Beatles’ seminal album turns ’50’ this month, collectors are scrambling to own a piece of music history from the most iconic record cover of all time.

The cover was based on an original idea by Paul McCartney, who recalled the initial concept behind the design:

“To help us get into the character of Sgt Pepper’s band, we started to think about who our heroes might be. Well then, who would this band like on the cover? Who would my character admire? We wrote a list. They could be as diverse as we wanted- Marlon Brando, James Dean. Albert Einstein- or whoever. So we started choosing- Groucho Marx and so on. It got to be anyone we liked.”

The design was then brought to life by artists Peter Blake and his wife Jann Haworth, who used life size cut-outs of celebrities alongside wax dummies, props, plants and flowers to create a gigantic collage.

Only a handful of these original props from the cover shoot have ever hit the open market in recent years. Back in 2003, a cut-out of screen siren Marlene Dietrich – one of just three figures to appear in full on the sleeve – sold at Christie’s for $137,000.

The Tony Curtis cut-out will hit the block in Dallas at Heritage Auctions, as part of a sale commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in 1967.

Signed by the legendary actor on the reverse, the cardboard bust is expected to sell for up to $60,000.

Next up is Bobby Breen, a Canadian-born American actor and singer who rose to fame in the 1930s as a popular child soprano, before appearing in several hit musical films.

Although one of the more obscure figures to feature on the cover, his cut-out could sell for $50,000 – $70,000 in a dedicated sale of Beatles memorabilia at Paddle8 on June 14.

The cut-out is also the only one known to have been signed by Sir Peter Blake himself.

Having previously sold for £25,000 ($32,270) at Bonhams less than a year ago, this increase in value illustrates how, even half a century after their most famous album hit the shelves, the market for Beatles memorabilia is getting better all the time.

Just Collecting