Why George Harrison faked the other Beatles' autographs

on Saturday, 02 May 2009. Posted in Autograph forgeries

Written by Markus Brandes

Beatle George Harrison turned master forger to fake the autographs of John, Paul and Ringo - in order to give a dying girl the biggest thrill of her short life, experts believe.
The intriguing prospect of Harrison painstakingly copying the signatures of his band mates has arisen with the sale of some cherished photographs apparently autographed by the Fab Four that are being auctioned in Norfolk today to raise money for leukaemia research at the UEA. 

At first glance they appear to be genuine autographs signed by all four Beatles, but Harrison was thought to have practiced and practiced until he could reproduce the flamboyant signature of drummer Ringo Starr, and those of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. 

And slight differences when compared with authenticated signatures, lead experts and the auction house to believe it highly likely they were forged by The Beatles' lead guitarist in order not to disappoint a young leukaemia victim, who was one of the group's biggest fans. 

The two photographs are being sold by Harry Bartlett of Rickinghall, near Diss, and were given to his daughter Ann when the family were living in London at the height of the swinging sixties. 

He firmly believes that Harrison was responsible for all four autographs on the treasured photos which he has kept for more than forty years, tucked safely away in a drawer. 

“My daughter died of leukaemia in the late 1960s when she was 16. She was a mad Beatles fan and our next-door-neighbour in Barnet was John Riley, The Beatles' dentist,” he said. 

“When Ann was ill, she and a friend did some drawings of The Beatles which he volunteered to give them, and they sent back some photographs. I gave them to my solicitor Colin Wright who is raising money for leukaemia research at the UEA, and has also lost a daughter to leukaemia.”

Mr Bartlett said it came as no surprise to find out that three of the Beatles' signatures could be phoneys. 

“I'd heard in London that George Harrison was the master forger of the group,” he added. 

Andrew Bullock, head of the book department at Keys, said they have consulted a leading dealer in Beatles autographs who believes it “more than probable” that all the names on the two photographs are Harrison's work. 

“There are quite a few signatures that were all done by George Harrison, as he was quite pleased that he had got so good at doing them,” he explained. 

“There is this young girl who is sadly not at all well, George is aware of this and he is not able to get the other three members to sign. It adds a certain something and it's actually quite nice.” 

The photographs will be going under the hammer at auctioneers' Keys' sale at Aylsham which starts at 11am. They are being sold together as lot 1144 and have attracted keen interest from prospective bidders. The guide price is £1,000 to £1,200.