Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Still Worth 75 Cents: Velvet Underground Acetate

I guess somethings can sometimes be too good to be true. The Globe And Mail Newspaper has reported that the buyer of the VU acetate offered up on eBay last week is a sham! This may seem harsh, but what else can you say about this overly hyped (by guys like me) auction with major media coverage across North America. The winning bidder, Mechadaddy outbid the next person by only $100 and he registered that bid about three and a half hours before bidding closed, so he probably didn't bid-snipe it. If his attention seeking story is to believed, it might have been just bad luck his "friend's" bid stood. With the amount of bids rejected and withdrawn, because of low feedback and probable lack of funds, it's a wonder how this one slipped past eBay.

So this means I still have a crack at this prized possession, too bad my eBay feedback is kind of low (20) and I don't think my credit card can handle anything more than a few more Christmas presents. Warren Hill says he's not the most passionate of VU fans, anyone that knows me knows I'm a very big fan of the Velvet's and I wouldn't mind framing this disc for my living room. Hmmm.. it would sure look good on my wall when the folks come over for Christmas, but there would be a lot of explaining to do when they find out I mortgaged the house.
In case you can't link to the G & M article, I'll save you the dollar and publish it below.

Rare acetate still seeks buyer

Reports that Velvet Underground pressing fetched $155,000 false, JAMES ADAMS reports

Monday, December 11, 2006

The fabled acetate of the Velvet Underground's famous first recording is still worth only 75 cents (U.S.).

This is because the highest bidder in a 10-day online auction for the fragile acetate that ended last Friday evening "has proved to be bogus," a disappointed Warren Hill said yesterday. He's the 30-year-old Montrealer who, in September 2002, innocently paid 75 cents for the 12-inch, nine-song acetate after finding it at a street sale in New York's Chelsea district. Later he determined the acetate was, in fact, a test-pressing of sorts, from 1966, of the Velvet Underground's first-ever recording session in a grungy New York studio.

Hill and a friend, Portland, Ore. record-store proprietor Eric Isaacson, arranged this fall to have Saturn Records of Oakland, Calif. oversee the sale of the acetate on eBay, starting Nov. 28. By around 11:30 p.m. ET Friday, the auction's closing, the winning bid seemed to be $155,401 (U.S.) from a buyer called "mechadaddy" apparently living in the Los Angeles area. Yesterday, the major news services, including Reuters and Associated Press, were in fact reporting that the disc sold for that sum. When the Globe reached Hill, though, the story was different.

On the weekend Saturn received an e-mail from the supposed winner who said a friend, unbeknownst to him, had, as a lark, bid on the acetate using his (the supposed winner's) computer at work and account number. "Ohmigod, I'm so sorry," the e-mail read in part. "I can barely afford gas for my car" let alone more than $150,000 for a 40-year-old disc of acetone-covered aluminum.

The Hill acetate has attracted considerable attention in the last two years, largely because of its rarity.

There may be only one other one in existence. As well, the sequencing, arrangements and mixes of the material are different from what was eventually released, in 1967, as The Velvet Underground and Nico album. That recording, with a cover by Velvets' mentor Andy Warhol, was recently voted the 13th greatest rock record ever by the editors of Rolling Stone.

Speaking from Backdoor Records and Pastries, the business he owns in Montreal, Hill admitted he's "totally" disappointed by the turn of events. At the same time, "I kind of had my doubts early on . . . especially when the numbers started to jump more than we thought they would."

Hill, Isaacson and Saturn Records figured "realistically" the acetate might sell for between $10,000 and $30,000. Bidding, in fact, stayed within the low to mid-five figures for the first five or six days of the auction, but then leaped into the $100,000 realm on Dec. 3. By Wednesday last week, it had reached $130,000.

Asked what's next for the acetate, Hill said "there's a couple of different things that might happen," but he refused to specify what they are. One possibility might be to find -- or at least try to find -- a legitimate under-bidder among the 200-plus individuals who posted offers online. Another might be to sell the acetate at a live auction, possibly at one of the more reputable record conventions in the U.S.

Truth be told, Hill's not the most passionate of Velvet Underground fans. A recent graduate, in history, from Concordia University, he's president of the self-founded Irma Thomas and Minit Records Fan Club (Thomas is a New Orleans soul singer, Minit a now-defunct indie record label) and the publisher of a music fanzine called $2 (Comes with Mixtape).

"Right now I'm getting caught up in Christmas," he said. He'll be shutting up Backdoor Records and Pastries shortly to head out to Vancouver to visit his parents. Then early in the new year, he's off to Taiwan for a visit he describes as "part holiday, part scholarly."

Good luck to Warren and I hope he finds a legit buyer, i'm sure this story isn't over yet...stay tuned. Let me know what you think!

update Dec 14: Second chance! Listed again on eBay, starting bid of $0.99, bidding ends December 21st 14:04 pst. this auction is restricted to pre-approved bidder only.

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