Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics for “The Times They Are A-Changin’” fetched $422,500 at Sotheby’s in New York today as hedge-fund manager Adam Sender bested five other bidders for the folk-music artifact.
Bidding by phone, Sender, an avid art collector whose trophies decorate the Manhattan offices of his Exis Capital Management, came in well over Sotheby’s pre-sale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.
The title track of Dylan’s third album, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” was first performed at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 26, 1963, when the singer was 22.
“He recorded the song right around the March on Washington, just before the Kennedy assassination,” said Sean Wilentz, author of “Bob Dylan in America” who teaches history at Princeton University and has no connection to the auction. “It’s Dylan at his most political. It has qualities of an anthem.”
The civil-rights march was in August that year, and President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22. The song was recorded shortly before the Carnegie Hall concert.
The sheet of paper features crossed-out and added words on a yellowish surface. It originally belonged to Dylan’s friend Kevin Krown. The two young men met in Denver and became buddies in 1961-62, according to Wilentz, while Dylan shuttled between New York and his native Minnesota.
“He is not the best-known of Dylan’s cronies because he goes back so far,” Wilentz said.
Sender, who previously worked at SAC Capital Advisors LP for Steven A. Cohen, another big art collector, also owns the guitar John Lennon was playing when he met Paul McCartney. Last week, Sender bought pieces by new and established artists at Art Basel Miami Beach.
“Bob Dylan’s lyrics are not terribly rare,” said Selby Kiffer, senior vice president and head of the books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s. “He has a tremendous output. However to have lyrics of such a seminal song is unusual.”
Working drafts for more than 90 songs by Dylan, including most tracks recorded between 1962 and 1966, are in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum.
Sotheby’s was “banking on there being a rich person out there who came of age in the 1960s for whom this would mean a great deal,” said Wilentz.
In June, John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” sold for $1.2 million at Sotheby’s in New York.
With reporting by Lindsay Pollock. --Editors: Jeffrey Burke, Daniel Billy.
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