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Rare Beatles photos snapped up for £223,000

The Beatles shot by photographer Mike Mitchell on February 11 1964 (Mike Mitchell/AP)
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Never-before seen photographs of the Beatles' first US concert in Washington DC have been sold in New York for more than 360,000 dollars (£223,600).

The Fab Four played their first US concert on February 11 1964, at the Washington Coliseum, two days after their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Mike Mitchell, of Washington, was 18 at the time and took photographs just feet away. Fifty silver gelatin prints he made from negatives were sold individually at Christie's auction house.

The images, plus photos from another Beatles concert, had been estimated to fetch a total of just 100,000 dollars.

Among the highlights is a backlit photograph Mitchell shot while standing directly behind the Fab Four. It sold for more than 68,000 dollars and had been expected to bring 2,000-3,000 dollars.

An image of an animated Ringo Starr on the drums estimated to bring 3,000-5,000 dollars sold for 8,125 dollars (£5,000). Christie's said the shot depicts a rare moment where Starr was both drummer and lead singer on I Wanna Be Your Man - a song written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, but made famous by The Rolling Stones.

Cathy Elkies, Christie's director of iconic collections, said: "Beatles fans are fierce. To uncover this trove of images that's never been published will really excite people."

In a recent interview, Mr Mitchell, 65, who now works as an art photographer in Washington, described the rollicking scene at the Washington indoor arena - not only of screaming fans but also of his unrestricted access.

"It was a long time ago. Things weren't that way then," he said. "It was as low-tech as the concert itself. The concert was in a sports venue and the sound system was the sound system of a sports venue."

Mr Mitchell stored the negatives for years in a box in his basement. For the silver gelatin prints in the auction, he used digital technology to do "much better darkroom work that could ever have been done in a traditional darkroom". Until now, he added, the images "couldn't be restored to the extent that they have".

PA

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