Some might say that Mike Mitchell was just at the right place at the right time. Others might call him lucky. Then again, as the old proverb goes, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
It was 1964. Just 18 at the time, Mike Mitchell decided he would snap photos of the Beatles when they arrived in Washington D.C. from New York, then he would follow them to their news conference and to their concerts.
Washington Coliseum would be the Beatles’ first U.S. concert venue. With no huge security presence, Mitchell was able to stand just a few feet away from the band. As he recalls, "to me, this concert was an opportunity to do portraits, and to get an up close look, to really see who these guys were! Many Americans emerging from the sleep-walking fifties saw the Beatles as very strange creatures indeed. Most of the establishment press treated them as mere novelty. My generation however felt an immediate connection with them and still do."
For more than 40 years, Mitchell stored the negatives in a box in his basement until several years ago, when he decided to digitize his archive. Why did he finally take them out of hiding? Like many, Mitchell was hit hard by the recession and housing crisis.
Yesterday, at Christie’s, the photos finally went up for auction. Fifty silver gelatin prints he made from negatives were sold individually. Estimated to fetch a total of $100,000, they ended up selling for more than three times that, or around $360,000.
The highlight? The first photo in our set, the backlit photo of the Fab Four. Expected to bring in $2,000 to $3,000, it sold for a shocking $68,500.
What beautiful and timeless photos.