10 min read

Velvet Underground Vinyl on eBay for over $100K


UPDATE4: The top bid(s) were bogus, and the auction ended without a buyer. Looks like it was too good to be true. Regardless, sounds like he’s going to give it another go, “Montreal man thwarted in eBay auction of rare record to try again” As always there’s some fun Monday morning quarterbacking going on over at digg.com on the issue.

UPDATE3: The auction is over, winning bid $155,401.00

UPDATE2: I’ve found more info on the original recording (and the likely source of the FLAC posted for download here - which while it has plenty of surface noise is still very, very cool) plus a full listing of this record on a VU archives site. Check it after the jump.

UPDATE: Some are saying that some of the bids are bogus, just people looking for their “15 minutes of fame” (Warhol pun intended!)

There is an extremely rare acetate Velvet Underground record that was found at a NYC flea market years ago is now up on eBay, the highest bid at this moment is at $110,100.00! Oh, and there’s still over 4 days to go on the bidding! The story is the stuff of any record collector’s dream, “In September of 2002 Warren Hill of Montreal Canada was perusing a box of records at a Chelsea, New York street sale when he happened upon a nice Leadbelly 10″ on Folkways, a water damaged copy of the first Modern Lovers LP on Beserkely, and a brittle 12″ piece of acetone-covered aluminum with the words “Velvet Underground. 4-25-66. Att N. Dolph” written on the label. He purchased the three records for 75 cents each.“So the skinny on the recording is that this acetate is the recording of what would have been VU’s first album, Velvet Underground with Nico, as Andy Warhol recorded it. For me nothing beats Loaded, but Velvet Underground with Nico is how I got into VU, so this is amazingly cool. Goldmine Magazine describes the research of the recording:

_…We cued it up and were stunned — the first song was not “Sunday Morning” as on the _Velvet Underground & Nico” Verve LP, but rather it was “European Son”- the song that is last on that LP, and it was a version neither of us had ever heard before! It was less bombastic and more bluesy than the released version, and it clocked in at a full two minutes longer. I immediately took the needle off the record, and realized that we had something special. Between the two of us we had heard many Velvets outtakes on both official and less than official releases, but the present material had never been heard by either of us. […] The recording is comprised of the primitive first “finished” version of the LP that Andy Warhol had shopped to Columbia as a ready-to-release debut album by his protege collective “The Velvet Underground”. This acetate, which is possibly the only surviving copy, represents the first Velvet Underground album as Andy Warhol intended it to be released.

I’m holding out hope that this is bought by a label or someone who releases it to the public; I’ll buy it (not for +100,000$ though…) In the meantime, someone has released what they say is the same thing in Flac format, get the links from the comments section in the original article. I think this is the same thing that can be found on P2P networks labeled: Velvet Underground and Nico - 1966-4 Scepter Studios, Norman Dolph Acetate


From http://members.aol.com/olandem/studio.html:

Week of April 18-23, 1966, Scepter Studios, New York City, New York

Sound engineers: Norman Dolph & John Licata

  1. European Son

  2. Black Angel Of Death

  3. All Tomorrow’s Parties

  4. I’ll Be Your Mirror

  5. Heroin

  6. Femme Fatale

  7. Venus In Furs

  8. Waiting For The Man

  9. Run Run Run

1-9 : Ultimate Mono And Acetates Album 3-CD, 2005

This session is available on a studio acetate dated April 25, 1966 cut for the recording engineer Norman Dolph. The information on the record labels (there is no cover) reads as such:

XTV-122402 The Velvet Underground Side I Att Mr-N-Dolph 4-25-66

XTV-122401 The Velvet Underground Side II Att Mr-N-Dolph 4-25-6

Norman Dolph recalled the acetate as something that was pressed at Columbia, he recognized the matrix number, he was working at Columbia at the time and so sent the master tapes upstairs to get a acetate cut, he used this acetate to submit to Columbia executives to see if they were interested in releasing the thing, apparently he still has the rejection letter from them essentially saying “are you out of your fucking mind” his words. He thinks that he may have given the acetate to either Warhol or Cale when Columbia sent it back to him.

The acetate was discovered (and bought for $0.75!) around 2004 at a yard sale in Chelsea, New York. An incomplete ‘edited’ version was released as bonus CDR with the 100 first copies of At The Factory - Warhol Tapes bootleg CD. Another (more scratchy) copy which was used for the Ultimate Mono And Acetates Album bootleg which offers the complete recording.

The versions of Heroin, Waiting for The Man, and Venus In Furs are quite different from the ones available on The Velvet Underground And Nico album. Also some of the mixes are a little different than the album final versions.

European Son is a longer version with a one-minute extra guitar solo after the ‘plate break’, which was probably edited out for the final release.

All Tomorrow’s Parties is the alternate ‘single voice’ version.

I’ll Be Your Mirror is possibly the same take, but with alternate Nico vocal track. Nico ends second verse with “to show that you’re home” instead of “so you won’t be afraid”, and it has quieter “reflect what you are” backing vocals vocals at the end.

The version of Heroin has different lyrics starting with “I know just where I’m going” instead of “I don’t know just where I’m going”, a shorter intro before the lyrics start as well as a significantly different guitar line.

Femme Fatale seems to be the same take but with alternate ‘falsetto’ “she’s a femme fatale” backing vocals.

Venus In Furs is an alternate take as well.

Waiting For The Man starts with the lyrics “waiting for the man” in N. Dolph’s version but starts with “waiting for my man” as well near the end of the released version Lou Reed says “walk it on home” which is absent on the released version.

Even more info about the studio recording, and how the metallic acetate came to be, posted in The Portland Mercury:

The Velvet Underground Play Portland

How an Original Velvet Underground Acetate Wound Up in Portland (And Could Be the Most Expensive Record in the World!)


**Yard sales are like **junior high dances. You show up full of anticipation, bump into a lot of people, and then leave disappointed. But in both cases, an ineffable sense of possibility spawns return, over and over. Maybe this time I’ll slow dance with Tiffany Pfeiffer. Maybe this time I’ll find a first edition of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49. Maybe my life will change within the hour.And so earlier this year, with flickering expectation, Warren Hill picked through some old records at a yard sale in Chelsea, New York. They seemed out of place compared with the rest the junk, like a box that had been forgotten in the attic and left untouched by a string of disinterested tenants. He pulled out a soggy copy of the Modern Lovers’ first LP and then he saw it, a record with no sleeve and only a few hand-written words on the label: “Velvet Underground… 4/25/66… N. Dolph.” He bought it for $0.75.


Back in the spring of 1966, Bonanza was lighting TV sets and John Lennon was declaring the Beatles “more popular than Jesus,” but at a Polish Community Hall called the Dom in New York City’s East Village, a modern myth was created. The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, a music-art-freak-out-happening, was the collaborative effort of Andy Warhol, his Factory followers, and the Velvet Underground. Epic versions of songs like “All Tomorrow’s Parties” were played at deafening volumes, dancers cracked whips, colored strobe lights flashed, and projected films drenched the audience, the walls, and the band in broken images of Edie Sedgwick’s face.

Warhol was keen to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the events. In hopes of maintaining the band’s abrasive sound and seedy subject matter, he saw the need for a completed record, one that could be given to record labels without allowing them creative control. In exchange for one of his paintings, Warhol asked a sales executive at Columbia Records to oversee a one-day recording session at the dilapidated Scepter Studios. He would not be credited as a producer, but he would play an integral part in the Velvet Underground’s earliest studio recordings. That man’s name was Norman Dolph.

On a single day in April, Dolph sat behind Scepter’s mixing boards as the band recorded what they thought would be their first record. Dolph had an acetate (a metallic “master” record) pressed after-hours at Columbia and sent it to the executives at the label. He still has the handwritten response he received when the acetate was returned, one he has paraphrased as, “You have to be fucking kidding!”

After the initial rejection, the band would enlist another “ghost” producer, Tom Wilson, re-recording some of the songs and adding others. Eventually, all the master tapes would be re-mixed by Wilson and the final product would be released as The Velvet Underground and Nico.


Before returning home to Montreal, Warren Hill went to other sales and bought more records, but when he called longtime friend, Portland’s Mississippi Records’ owner Eric Isaacson, the mysterious Velvet Underground record seemed like the biggest find.

“We assumed it was a test pressing at first,” recalls Isaacson. “I told Warren we could put an $800 price tag on it and put it on the wall at the store.”

Once Hill brought the record to Portland, the two began to realize they were in for a bigger payday. The track list was different than the official record released by Verve, and a few songs were missing. The sound mix seemed weird and versions of some of the songs were markedly different than anything either had heard before.

“You can damage acetates by playing them too much,” says Isaacson, “But I put it on anyway and right away we were like ‘Holy shit!’ We knew it was really important.”

Hill tracked down the phone number for Norman Dolph and, after verifying the serial number, the former producer confirmed that it was the record he had pressed for Columbia executives. Because the original master tapes of the Scepter session have been lost or destroyed, it remains as a one-of-a-kind testament to the band’s first studio session, containing “lost” versions of “Venus in Furs,” “I’m Waiting for the Man,” and “Heroin.” The last time Dolph saw the record, it was collecting dust in Warhol’s estate. How it ended up in a Chelsea attic remains a mystery, as does its future.

“We’re petrified and don’t really know how to sell it” says Isaacson. “We got an offer right away for $10,000, but we turned it down.”

Not bad for a $0.75 investment. It now seems likely that the record will become the most expensive ever sold, exceeding the sale of Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde acetate and topping $40,000. Like finding the U.S. Constitution behind a painting, it’s the kind of event that will drive yard sale attendance for years to come.

The record now resides comfortably in a safe house at significant distance from Mercury readers.