Bob Dylan lyrics sell for record price at auction

'Like A Rolling Stone' sells for more than $2m

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Music - Bob Dylan - New York

The lyrics to Bob Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone', have set a new record for the most expensive lyrics ever sold at auction. They fetched $2,045,000 at Sotheby's in New York - smashing the previous record held by the lyrics to The Beatles' 'A Day in the Life', which sold for $1.2 million.

So why were they so expensive?

Memorabilia

One factor was the demand from specialist collectors. The lyrics were expected to fetch somewhere between $1 million and $2 million, and the fact that the price broke through the top end of the estimate was in part down to sheer demand on the day. 1960s lyrics are fetching high prices at the moment: it's no surprise that the second most valuable lyrics ever sold were by The Beatles.

Bob Dylan memorabilia is also in great demand. At the end of last year, his sunburst Fender Stratocaster - first used at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, sold for $965,000. The performance at the festival was notable for the fact that much of the audience booed him for using an electric guitar, and the history of the instrument pushed the price to a new record for guitars sold at auction. Previously this had been held by Eric Clapton's 'Blackie' which sold for $959,500.

Another reason for the record price reached by the lyrics is the way they have been written - including a number of doodles in the margin as well as alternatives to rhyme with 'how does it feel' - including 'get down and kneel' and 'shut up and deal'. There are also reminders and appointments noted in the margin.

However, even this wasn't enough to secure a record price. After-all these weren't the only Bob Dyan lyrics for sale in this auction: a second lot for 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' fetched just $485,000 - somewhere in the middle of its $400,000-$600,000 estimate.

The song

The big difference was the song itself. Richard Austin, Head of Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby's New York said: "The Holy Grail of rock lyrics has taken its rightful place as the most expensive popular music manuscript sold at auction."

He credited he importance of the song for the record-breaking price, adding: "Like A Rolling Stone irreversibly changed both the career of Bob Dylan and postwar music history and I am thrilled to see so many collectors recognising these lyrics' importance as a work of 20th century cultural history."

He added that the fact that it took Dylan electric and that it was the first six minute single were both important rock milestones - recognised by the fact that Rolling Stone magazine named it as the best rock song of all time.

But what do you think? Has this collector got a good deal?