"Money can't buy me love", the Beatles once sang, but a contract that helped launch the most successful pop foursome of all times commanded an auction price at Sotheby's on Tuesday of 365,000 pounds ($553,121).
The contract that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr approved on Oct. 1, 1962, confirmed Brian Epstein, sometimes known as the fifth Beatle, as their manager, and also brought in Ringo as their drummer.
It was the second contract the Beatles had signed with Epstein, a former record-shop owner who became enamoured of the group after listening to them over and over at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
The contract replaced one the group had signed in January of the same year, which had included Pete Best as drummer. He was replaced by Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo.
It was signed days before the release of their first top-selling single, "Love Me Do".
"Without this contract, and the relationship it represents, it seems inconceivable that the Beatles could have achieved all that they did," Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby's specialist in books and manuscripts, said in a statement.
"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."
The contract was included in a Sotheby's sale in London of rock and pop memorabilia.