The contract that launched the Beatles as one of the most successful bands of all time has been sold for £365,000 at auction in London.
Signed almost 53 years ago to the day, just before the release of their first single Love Me Do, it was the only contract signed between manager Brian Epstein and the final line-up of John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
An anonymous buyer bought the contract at Sotheby's auction house, which was drawn up on October 1 1962 in Epstein's Whitechapel office at North Ends Music Stores.
Epstein, who died in 1967, was acknowledged as the "fifth Beatle" by McCartney and "one of us" by Lennon.
Specialist at Sotheby's Gabriel Heaton, said: "Without this contract, and the relationship it represents, it seems inconceivable that the Beatles could have achieved all that they did: it took more than inspired musicianship and song-writing to remake popular music.
"The presentation, direction, and internal harmony of the Beatles all owed a huge amount to Brian Epstein. He was, as Paul McCartney has acknowledged, the fifth Beatle," added Heaton.