The long days of Covid made Michael Catarevas inclined to more internet searches than usual.
One day, he cyber-stumbled onto a three-part auction of over 1,000 Beatles photos from the estate of Paul Goresh. “As The Beatles provided the continual soundtrack for my life, I decided to bid on a photo of the Fab Four smiling broadly before receiving achievement medals from Queen Elizabeth II in 1965,” recalls Michael. “And I won!”
His son, Ben, a UConn student who once again found himself under the same roof as his parents, took interest. “Our four years of driving back and forth from Westport to Storrs countless times always included listening to bands from the ’60s and ’70s,” Michael says. “Bless his heart.”
They began poring over the many photos in the estate, including numerous “first-generation vintage photographs that originally appeared in American magazines like 16, Tiger Beat, and Teen, as well as British newspapers.”
Let’s pause here to learn a bit about Paul Goresh. Paul, who died in 2018, is remembered as either a creepy stalker or a friendly and fanatical collector, depending on who you ask. A nice parallel to Michael and Ben’s Beatles spree: when Paul was young, his father took him to the newsstands on weekends to buy the paper. While there, Paul bought as many Beatles cards as he could with the pocket change his father gave him during the week.
In 1979, Paul finagled his way into meeting John Lennon, and the two became acquaintances, taking short walks together, and John sometimes letting Paul photograph him. Meanwhile, Paul was amassing one of the “most important” fan collections in rock history, with photos, albums, toys, and more.
Of the many photographs Paul took, two became famous: the photo of John and Yoko that John chose to be on his “Watching the Wheels” cover and, infamously, the last photo ever taken of the Beatles. On December 8, 1980, Paul took a photo of John autographing “Double Fantasy” for Mark David Chapman, the man who would come back four hours later and kill him.
Of note, this final image was published in papers around the world and was considered for a Pulitzer Prize that year.
The first item father and son won together was a “sweet shot of John Lennon with first wife Cynthia, both glowing at a formal evening affair.” The next was Paul McCartney with girlfriend Jane Asher at a party.
At Ben’s suggestion, they searched for more images of the young men with their love interests, along with records, group photos, and other ephemera. They scored photos of a “full-bearded” Ringo Starr with wife Maureen en route to Elizabeth Taylor’s birthday party, George Harrison with Pattie Boyd on the set of A Hard Day’s Night.
Then the next round of lovers: Paul with Linda Eastman, John with Yoko Ono, George with Olivia Arias, and Ringo with Barbara Bach.
“We themed that part of our growing collection The Birds & the Beatles, ‘bird’ being the uniquely British slang for a pretty young woman in those days,” says Michael.
They didn’t win often - Fab Four fans have fat wallets - but spent many afternoons strategizing and discussing their potential buys.
Most of the collection is first-generation photos taken from 1964-1968. Two of his favorites are a simple but radiant group shot. Another is his first purchase, of them about to be honored by Queen Elizabeth II. “Their smiles are so pure… They are so clearly delighted with having achieved so much acclaim and love, before things would get complicated.” Michael muses.
Their collection, which began modestly in the guest room, now dominates the walls of the entire basement and garage.
Oh, and just last week he threw in a set of Beatles dishes, so one day his may rival Paul Goresh’s.
Says Michael of its future, “I would love to donate the entire collection to have people enjoy viewing it. Most everything I’ve collected are unusual images and other memorabilia. Not the same old same old things that have been seen by the masses.”
*How can they tell they’re authentic? Snipes. Snipes typically consist of “markings, page indicators, stamps, credit requirements, etc.” Yes, other prints may have been made, but snipes prove it was the original one.