Winter Dance Party poster

Winter Dance Party poster from February 3, 1959 – $447,000 ($379,500) at Heritage.

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It is dated February 3, 1959, when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, JP Richardson, were on their way to a show at the Moorhead Armory, Minnesota, as part of the Winter Dance Party tour. Their single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza plane crashed into a corn field near Clear Lake, Iowa, and were all killed.

According to Heritage, it is the only known poster from a concert that incredibly was not cancelled on ‘The Day the Music Died’, as Don McLean famously called it in his American Pie song.

Heritage said the poster originally had been fixed to a telephone pole in advance of the 12th stop on the tour but fell to the ground. There are no pinholes, only the residue of the sticky material used to keep it in place. The maintenance man who found it placed the poster in a closet, face down, and forgot about it for 50 years. When he died his son sold it and the poster has gone through a poster dealer and another owner since.

The price beat the previous record hammer price of $220,000 (£169,400), or $275,000 with premium, previously held by a Beatles 1966 Shea Stadium concert poster, which sold also at Heritage on April 18.

It was the second time a Winter Dance Party poster had been offered through Heritage. In April 2020, a previously unseen cardboard (not paper) poster from the January 25, 1959, show at the Kato Ballroom in Mankato, Minnesota, sold for a premium-inclusive $125,000 (£101,250).

It had been thought that just five Winter Dance Party posters survive: three printed with dates before the crash and two after. The New York Met has an example for the performance in Fort Dodge, four days before the plane crash.