New York, NY (March 29, 2017)—When Bonhams announced that it would be selling the 1970s Abbey Road Studios EMI TG12345 MK IV recording console used to record Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, expectations were high. Indeed, the auction house cautioned in the desk’s catalogue listing, “The department advises that the estimate, although unpublished, is a significant six-figure sum.” Bonhams has since revealed that the pre-auction estimate was $700,000, but the console’s anonymous buyer blew right by that on March 27, purchasing the unusual piece of rock history for an eye-watering $1,807,500.
To be fair, the new owner got more for the money than just a historic desk; also included was a history of the desk from Abbey Road technician Brian Gibson; a copy of 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon; and a letter of provenance from former Abbey Road Studio Manager, Ken Townsend.
The letter of provenance is a useful thing to have, of course, but the desk would be hard to fake—only two of the custom MK IV desks were ever built by EMI’s engineers, designed to be an update of the previous in-house MK II model.
The desk was in service inside Abbey Road’s Studio Two for 12 years, from 1971 to 1983, during which time it was used to record acts such as Paul McCartney and Wings, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Kate Bush. When the studio was refurbished in 1983, the console was purchased by producer Mike Hedges for his Camden studio, the Playground, where it was subsequently used to record acts such as The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees and others. The desk is reportedly still in excellent working condition.
"The world record price of this important item of music engineering only confirms the military precision of EMI craftsmanship and the powerhouse persona of Abbey Road Studio,” said Katherine Schofield, Bonhams’ head of Entertainment Memorabilia in London. “The intense bidding seen in the room and on the phone speaks to its association with one of the UK's most relevant and successful bands, Pink Floyd, and highlights the fact that this is far from being any ordinary console."