MIAMI (CBS4) – Some of the most important memorabilia from an iconic west coast American band is stored in a steel vault on the east coast, in downtown Miami.
And it’s on the auction block.
In a tall, windowless facility appropriately named The Fortress, a treasure trove of Beach Boys artifacts is being kept while being auctioned off online.
“It’s huge, huge. Over a thousand pieces,” said Jimi Mastronardi of the London-based auction house The Fame Bureau.
“The items span from the very first royalty check that they got,” Mastronardi said as he displayed a small sampling of the giant collection for CBS4 News.
The royalty check, for $990, is hand written on blue stock. The first dollars the group – that would make countless millions – made. It was for “Surfin’ Safari,” the first of their many hits dealing with surfing, cars and girls.
Also in the collection are the original, handwritten sheet music for songs including “California Girls,” “God Only Knows,” “Surfin’ USA,” and their big hotrod hit, “409.”
The assemblage of Beach Boys items also includes scores of photographs of the group as – well – boys, and later while on national and world tours after achieving fame.
In their time the Beach Boys sold more records than any other American Band. Their U.S. sales were eclipsed only by a motley bunch from England called The Beatles.
How did the Beach Boys most personal and valuable pieces of history end up in a vault in Miami?
The short answer is that, many years ago, a groupie type brought the collection to South Florida, claiming he was given the items by a representative for the band. A long legal battle ensued and, in the end, half a dozen parties, including the Beach Boys, agreed to sell the collection and split the proceeds.
Among the owners is Baruch Halpern, an investment banker who lives in Bal Harbour.
“It’s a really big deal for me,” Halpern said Friday as he surveyed the collection of pop music history. “I shouldn’t date myself here, but it was my teenage years, and I had the California dream.”
Halpern said it is his hope that the collection, being sold in a single batch, will be purchased by an institution and not an individual. It needs to be shared, he said.
“Now is a great time to take this entire collection and, hopefully, get it into a museum,” Halpern said. “It spans 50 years of the Beach Boys.”
No one can know for sure, but it’s thought the memorabilia could fetch $12 million or more.
The blind, online auction is being conducted by The Fame Bureau. Bidding closes May 15th. Information on how to bid and a comprehensive listing of the items in the Beach Boys collection can found at www.famebureau.com.