Mike Mitchell was just 18 years-old when he was given the task of photographing the biggest band in the world. And now, 47 years later, his work will be seen for the first time.
On Wednesday evening The Beatles Illuminated: The Discovered Works of Mike Mitchell, a collection of 50 never-before-seen unpublished photographs of the Fab Four, will go to auction at Christie’s in New York City. The entire collection is expected to fetch somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000.
Mitchell followed the band on their first tour of North America after their now-legendary appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. He was given full avenue to the group’s arrival at Union Station and unrestricted stage access at their first concert in Washington D.C.
The resulting photographs find the band members before the burden of international super stardom set in, showing them at their most candid and unreserved. They include pensive portrait shots of John Lennon and Ringo Starr, George Harrison with his guitar and several shots of the band performing together on stage.
For Mitchell, who had the pictures digitally restored after keeping them filed away for nearly 50 years, the photographs offer a chance to revisit the excitement that the Beatles ignited in Baby Boomers.
“Many Americans emerging from the sleep-walking fifties saw the Beatles as very strange creatures indeed. Most of the establishment press treated them as a mere novelty. My generation, however, felt an immediate connection with them and still do,” said Mitchell.
To check out more of Mitchell’s collection, head over to Christie’s Ecatalogue.
UPDATE: Mitchell’s photographs sold individually for a whopping total of $360,000. One of the highlights included a shot of Ringo Starr playing drums and singing lead on I Wanna Be Your Man, which was expected to sell for up to $3,000 … it ended up going for over $68,000.