Sacré bleu! French Beatlemaniac sells 15,000 items of a lifetime’s memorabilia

From the Guardian

Obsessive fan and amateur Beatles expert hopes sale of vast collection will pay for his retirement

Jacques Volcouve with his Beatles collection last week. Photograph: Courtesy of Jacques Volcouve

Jacques Volcouve was a schoolboy fan of Jimi Hendrix in 1967 when his brother’s friend lent him a new album by a British band and urged him to listen to it.

The album was the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Volcouve loved it. It was the start of a 50-year obsession that has made the Frenchman one of the world’s greatest living experts on the Fab Four.

“The Beatlemania bug bit me and I was never cured of it,” Volcouve told the Observer.

“I listened to the album and I thought the music was incredible. From then on, I wanted everything to do with the Beatles: records; newspaper clips, posters, memorabilia … everything.”

In March, Volcouve, now in his 60s, will see his collection of 15,000 records, signed books, posters, autographs, figurines and memorabilia go on sale at the prestigious Drouot auction house in Paris.

To mark the occasion, the French tribute band We Love You Paul has been invited to play during the pre-sale exhibition of the thousands of lots.

For Volcouve, the sale will be a bittersweet occasion. He hopes that parting with what has turned out to be his life’s work will raise enough money to keep him in a comfortable retirement.

His career as France’s foremost “Beatles historian” began in the early 1970s, after he kept calling a French radio station to point out errors in a BBC series about the Beatles that they were airing, and was invited into the studio.

Jacques Volcouve with Paul McCartney in Paris, 1987. Photograph: M Denize

“What I wanted … was to share my pleasure and passion for the Beatles and in some way make sure that everything said about them was correct,” he said.

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