A cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” signed by all four Beatles has sold for $290,500.
Let me repeat: a signed album cover — cardstock with a little bit of ink on it — has sold for TWO HUNDRED NINETY THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. $290,500. Again, just so you get the idea: $290,500 went towards buying a carrying case for an album that was mass-produced, whose record has music on it that can be heard with the simplest YouTube search.
Look, I’m all for people having agency over their own money and spending it however they choose to, as long as what they are spending it on is not harmful to other people. I’m just kind of shocked that SO MUCH MONEY was spent on something so useless. And I get it: it’s not the ink, it’s what the ink signifies. It’s that we place value on who spent that bit of ink and why. I get it. But seriously — prudence?
Upper middle class Americans spend that kind of money on some things, namely houses. The amount of money doesn’t change; it’s still a lot of money to a lot of people. But what does change, what is different between spending almost $300,000 on a house versus a piece of cardboard is the product and the use of each. That album cover cannot protect you from a storm, cannot keep you warm or dry or safe. You can’t eat it (unless you are on the Jenna Maroney paper diet). You can’t really do anything with it, except look at it and show it off. It’s not good for anything.
There’s a reason that Aristotle endorsed temperance and prudence as some of the great virtues. Spending so extravagantly makes you look foolish at best and cruel at worst. Cruel, because spending one’s excess money on something as useless as a piece of cardboard rather than putting it towards feeding the hungry or housing the poor is selfish and greedy and insular. Foolish, because it’s just a terrible investment to make. I don’t know anything about finances, so I could just be blowing smoke here, but that guy would have been better off keeping his quarter of a mil and burying it in the backyard.
Owning things, especially things as impractical as a signed Beatles’ album cover, don’t make you any more special than anyone else, and they certainly can’t protect or comfort you when you are forced to submit to the horrifying and socially-leveling hour of your death. We all, every one of us, will have to face that hour one day, and things like that album cover, which meet our desires for success or acclaim, will do nothing to make easier the journey into that dark night.
Previously from Laura Creel:
♦ Found Canaletto = Treasure Story Surprise!
♦ “Your video sucks, US Magazine”
♦ Jantzen Diving Girl Gets the Skinny on Herself
♦ Letter to My Ex
♦ In Memoriam: The Death of Many Cover Letters, Resumes and Job Applications