Mystery of €25,000 Eleanor Rigby score pulled from auction of Beatles memorabilia
It was a sentimental gift, bought at a charity auction with the blessing of The Beatles and legendary producer Sir George Martin.
But now a sought after piece of Beatles memorabilia - an original Eleanor Rigby score penned by "fifth Beatle" Sir George - is at the centre of an extraordinary dispute.
Colin Sanders, a renowned musical entrepreneur and founder of the mixing console manufacturer Solid State Logic (SSL), is understood to have won the auction several years after the song's release.
Now, however, the much cherished heirloom has become centre of a bizarre whodunit involving his widow, Dr Rosemary Sanders, and the couple's adopted daughter, Terri-Louise.
The controversy arose after the rare manuscript, signed by Sir George and Sir Paul McCartney, turned up for sale at a Warrington-based auction house.
After learning of its disappearance, Dr Sanders contacted Omega Auctions, a specialist in music memorabilia, and claimed ownership.
The auction house was forced to pull the lot.
The score is one of only two known to have been written by Sir George; the original was left to his daughter, Alexis Stratfold, when he died last year. It had been valued at €25,000.
Dr Sanders has also alerted Thames Valley Police, which is attempting to determine the manuscript's true ownership and how it appeared for sale.
When approached by newspapers, Dr Sanders said that the score had been won by her late husband at a charity auction and had been passed to her after his death in 1998.
"My late husband won it at a charity auction," she said. "He knew Sir George well, they used to move in the same circles. They - the Beatles - would come to parties occasionally. He went to Abbey Road as well, and of course some of the studio was fitted out by SSL."
A spokesman for Omega Auctions confirmed that the score was no longer for sale and said it had been consigned for sale by someone claiming to be Colin Sanders' daughter Terri-Louise, adding that the auction house had understood that that person had inherited it from her father and was entitled to sell it. When quizzed on the subject, Terri-Louise Sanders denied any knowledge of the incident, saying she had never approached the auction house about any potential sale.
A Thames Valley Police spokesman said they were investigating the matter.