Friday 25 September 2015


Darren Julien is a busy man. Between now and Christmas the founder and CEO of Julien's Auctions will sell the personal collections of both Ringo Starr and Joan Collins, John Lennon's Gibson acoustic on which he wrote and recorded several 1962 and 1963 records, and a whole host of Banksy artworks. 

But he kindly found time on a Monday morning to tell JustCollecting what it's like working with a Beatle, why the outlook of the memorabilia market is so healthy, and to highlight some of the star attractions in his upcoming sales.

JustCollecting: You've got five big sales coming up between now and Christmas. Which particular lots are you looking forward to? 

Darren Julien: Well it’s one of our best line-ups we have ever had.  
I love the John Lennon guitar, as well as the Beatles' Ed Sullivan show drum head in our November auction.  
I think that the best item of the year for us (or any auction house for that matter in the world of pop culture) will be Ringo’s number 1 drum set.  He literally used it in over 200 Beatles performances and it was there for all the important historical moments leading up to the Beatles invading America. 
I also like [Ringo and wife Barbara's] furnishings as they are kitschy and the majority of the items are one of a kind that you could not find anywhere else. It’s hard to beat working with Ringo and Barbara. It’s a rare opportunity to handle an auction for such important pop culture icons.  

The big stars are coming to you to sell their collections. Ringo Starr and Joan Collins in December. Burt Reynolds last year. It must be thrilling working with these names. 
Yes, I must say I find myself in a very surreal position. Trust is a huge part of working with these celebrities and at the end of the day they want their items to be presented in a first class manner.  
With Julien’s they are not just another auction but we tailor and create the exhibitions, auction and overall event to what specifically is important to them.
 To Cher, the catalog was the most important. To Ringo and Barbara it’s important to them to raise funds for their charity. They, along with most celebrities, want to also share their items with the fans, as they normally amass so many items that it’s difficult to keep track of. Plus, when they do an auction like this it preserves the legacy of these items forever. 

Do the celebrities you work with have mixed emotions about auctioning their pieces? It must be hard seeing bits of your life sold off, even if it is to a charitable cause? 
Yes, in most cases it’s very difficult for them. We go through it with each celebrity client and they all care and have an emotional connection to the items they have saved.  The worry is though items being stored away for no one to enjoy.  This way, at least if something is paid for at a record price it generally is appreciated and enjoyed and in many cases bought by a museum where it can be enjoyed by the public. 

How "hands on" are the big names when they work with you?
Very hands on. [Executive director] Martin and I get to know everyone who we work with - sometimes on a personal level. Ringo and Barbara have been the most hands on out of everyone we have worked with. We welcome it as it’s their legacy and their items so we want toinsure that we do everything the way they want us to. I have no doubt that Ringo and Barbara will be friends long after the historic auction this coming December. 

Is "Beatlemania"-era Beatles memorabilia more popular than their collectibles from the late 60s? 
Yes for sure. Anything that is from an artist or band's most pivotal moments of their career is going to have the most value. The more iconic the better.

Do you see the Beatles being a good long-term investment, or will prices slowly wane as those who experienced the Beatles in the 60s die? 
Most definitely. I think that no matter what we sell the John Lennon guitar or Ringo’s number one drum set for this year, in another 10 years the value will only increase. It’s like most industries where supply and demand are limited. Everyone is always going to know who the Beatles were and the demand for their items will continue.

Am I right in saying that John Lennon is the most collectible of the four? Can you see Paul ever catching up?
Yes, John is the most collectible as he was the lead and he died at an early age. Unfortunately, death sometimes increases the value of an artist. Not in all cases though.

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