Brian Epstein's secret letters from the Beatles to be sold at Christie's

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The Independent Culture

A handwritten letter from Sir Paul McCartney and a Christmas card illustrated by John Lennon were unveiled today as highlights of an auction of items documenting the life of Beatles mastermind Brian Epstein.

The never-before-seen objects are among 14 lots due to go on sale at Christie's in South Kensington, London, this week - nearly 33 years after the Fab Four's manager died of a drug overdose.

Among the collection, which is expected to sell for about £45,000, is a four-page letter written by McCartney to Epstein in 1966 or 1967.

The correspondence, signed The Reverend James Paul McKenzie, carries an apology from the Beatles legend for the fact he has spilt Coca-Cola on its pages. Believed to be the first example of a letter between one of the group and their manager to appear at auction, it is expected to fetch between £10,000 and £12,000.

Also included is a hand-drawn Christmas card by Lennon, probably from 1966 - inscribed with the message: "Happy Christian Ryan from John," believed to be an ironic reference to Epstein being Jewish - and three note books written by the manager between 1950 and 1960 detailing his troubled childhood and later struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality.

Shortly before his death, Epstein gave the collection to his chauffeur Bryan Barrett for safekeeping. At a launch inChristie's showroom two days before the items were due to be auctioned, Mr Barrett, now 70, said he initially "threw the objects in a cupboard" but recently looked at them in more detail and decided it would no longer "hurt" anyone to make them public as Epstein's immediate family had all died.

Mr Barrett said that Epstein, for whom he worked in the last two years of his life, had a good working relationship with the Beatles when he first met him. "He seemed to get on all right with them to start with, but then other people came on the scene and it all went sour," he said.

Also in the sale will be 15 guitars belonging to "Chips" Moman, including a 1957 Gibson Super 400 CES given to him in the early 1960s by Presley's guitarist Scotty Moore. The instrument, expected to sell for £25,000-£35,000, was played on all Elvis's hits from 1957 to 1961, including "All Shook Up" and "King Creole".