This “06880” blog is “where Westport meets the world.”
That includes Liverpool. I’ve written before about local connections to the Beatles: Tim Jackson in the Ed Sullivan audience (right behind Nixon’s daughters). The Remains playing on the final ’66 tour (and Paul Ferrante’s book about it). Al Brodax’s role in “Yellow Submarine.” Prudence Farrow, the inspiration for their “White Album” song.
I’m still searching for proof of the (sub)urban myth that the Beatles once hung out at Compo Beach, on a (supposed) visit to disc jockey Murray the K’s Bluewater Hill rental.
It’s been more than 50 years since the band broke up. They were together for only 10 — and mega-stars, really, for just 7.
But those early years were special. The Beatles were young, fresh, innocent. They smiled a lot.
Some of those smiles now hang on Michael Catarevas’ wall.
The Westport writer has been a Beatles fan nearly his entire 66-year life. Growing up near New Haven, he listened to their 45s at the legendary Cutler’s record store.
The older he gets, the more he appreciates them. The Beatles, he says, are “the soundtrack of my life.”
Catarevas never collected Beatles memorabilia. But in early 2020, he saw an online auction of the estate of Paul Goresh. The amateur photographer had taken the only photograph of John Lennon signing his “Double Fantasy” album for Mark David Chapman, a few hours before he murdered the singer.
Many of Goresh’s photos fetched high prices (the Chapman image went for $40,000). But Catarevas bid $180 for — and won — a 1965 photo of the 4 Beatles, smiling and holding their MBE medals from Queen Elizabeth.
“They were so happy,” Catarevas says. “They were 21, 22 years old. It was such a fun time for them.”
The writer’s son Ben is 22 right now — and a big Beatles fan too. Working remotely from his parents’ house during the pandemic, he started watching the Goresh auction with his dad.
There was a lot to bid on. So Catarevas picked a theme: the Beatles and their girlfriends (“Beatles and Birds,” to use a ’60s phrase).
“It was a fun project,” Catarevas says. “Every day there was something new.”
They learned when and how to bid. One guy stymied them often. They thought he might represent a museum. Instead, he was just a fan with unlimited funds.
The “girlfriends” turned into wives: Cynthia Lennon, Jane McCartney, Maureen Starr, Pattie Harrison. Later, all became ex-wives. [CORRECTION: Paul McCartney never married Jane Asher.]
Catarevas and his son bought most of what they wanted (including shots of second wives). They have 33 original photos, plus magazines, posters (one in Czech), signed pictures by Albert Maysles from his documentary, newspaper front pages, and a signed print of a Cynthia Lennon drawing of the Beatles at the Cavern Club.
When Catarevas’ previous company moved from Stamford, employees could take anything they wanted. He picked the “boring corporate art” paintings — hoping the frames would one day come in handy. They just did.
The $180 for that first photo was the highest price the duo paid — except for one. They spent $220 on a shot of John, Paul and George singing at one mic. That’s extremely rare, Catarevas says.
The framed images — along with album and EP covers — now line the walls of a guest bedroom in Catarevas’ home. He and Ben wander in from time to time, just to admire their work.
Long after the pandemic is over, Catarevas says, Ben will remember all those months bidding on photos with his dad. They appreciate the time spent together.
Of course, the value of their collection will appreciate too.
BONUS TRACK: Catarevas has an oversized postcard of the Beatles with Murray the K. When he got it (for $35), he did not know about their (alleged) connection with Westport, through him.