A pre-production copy of the Beatles’ 1966 album Yesterday ... And Today, complete with hand-drawn artwork by John Lennon, has been hailed as the “rarest Beatles record in the world” by the auction site that expects to sell it for $200,000 or more.

The item’s history is well-known among the band’s collectors. Lennon had the “Butcher Cover” LP on the wall of his apartment at the Dakota in New York until he arranged with bootleg fan Dave Morrell to make a swap. Lennon drew a picture of a man with a shovel and a dog on the blank back cover, added a speech bubble to the front, and dedicated it: “To Dave from John Lennon, Dec 7th 71.”

In return, Lennon was given a reel-to-reel tape of the Beatles' Yellow Matter Custard bootleg. Morrell also got Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr to sign the cover, and the signatures have been authenticated by an expert. The album is offered for sale by noted Beatles collector Stan Panenka.

“The term ‘world class’ is probably a bit overused in describing collectibles," Heritage Auctions writes in its listing. "Labeling this unique, rare and desirable Beatles item as ‘world class’ is not hyperbole. If anything, it does not do it justice. Included with this lot is a signed letter of authenticity from noted Beatle autograph expert Frank Caiazzo."

The listing concludes by pointing out the significance of the item. "We don't feel the need to emphasize further the importance of this piece to the Beatle collector, or the art collector, or the pop culture collector, or the record collector," it states. "Don't let this one pass you by!”

The auctioneers have already received bids to the value of $100,000. The reserve price won't be revealed until Nov. 4.


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