An anonymous telephone bidder set a world auction price record yesterday, paying pounds 161,000 for Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics to the Beatles' "Getting Better".
The bid more than tripled Sotheby's previous record, and stunned other bidders, who had counted on the auctioneer's catalogue estimate of pounds 48,000.
Three years ago, John Lennon's lyrics for "A Day In The Life" set Sotheby's previous record of pounds 48,400.
McCartney's words were scribbled on a piece of headed notepaper for the "Million Volt Light and Sound Rave" in 1967, and they were eventually recorded for the group's Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
Despite the enthusiasm for McCartney memorabilia, Sotheby's main attraction, a collection of Lennon's schoolboy sketches, failed to reach its reserve price, and bidding was stopped at pounds 34,000.
The book, which was estimated to fetch pounds 120,000, contains 21 cartoons of Lennon's teachers and fellow pupils at Quarry Bank High School. Its owner, Helen Anderson, was persuaded by Lennon to part with her hand-knitted yellow sweater for the sketchbook when she was an art student in Liverpool.
In the book, the 15-year-old Lennon described himself as "Simply a Simple Pimple Shortsighted John Wimple Lennon". It was thought that fans would regard the item of Beatles memorabilia as precious.