On Tuesday, the working draft of Bob Dylan’s iconic song “Like a Rolling Stone” pulled in over $2 million at Sotheby’s. At the drop of the hammer, a new world record was set for a popular music manuscript. The final price of $2.045 million was inclusive of a buyer’s premium.
The buyer was not identified, except to say that he is a private collector. Neither was the seller named, excepting a hint from Sotheby’s that the seller was a longtime fan from California “who met his hero in a non-rock context and bought directly from Dylan.”
Dylan wrote the song in 1965 in pencil on four sheets of Roger Smith Hotel letterhead stationery. The manuscript includes revisions, additions, marginalia, and even little doodles of a hat, a bird, and an animal with antlers.
The manuscript is “the only known surviving draft of the final lyrics for this transformative rock anthem” about a debutante cast out from upper class social circles.
The previous world record for a popular music manuscript was set in 2010, when John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for “A Day in the Life” sold for $1.2 million, also at Sotheby’s.
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Reprinted with permission from Fine Books & Collections, author Nate Pedersen