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December 21, 2006 

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The Velvet Underground
Velvet Underground Record For Sale Again
Posted: December 15, 2006
NEW YORK (AP) -- The cyberspace saga of the Velvet Underground's 40-year-old first recording continued Thursday, with a new eBay auction that followed a false winning bid of more than $155,000.

That bid last week bit the dust when a young man in California e-mailed the seller confessing he doesn't even have enough money to buy gas, never mind the rare recording.

The first auction ended Dec. 8, with eBay showing a final bid of $155,401 for the music that ended up on the influential New York band's first album, "The Velvet Underground & Nico." Warren Hill, a collector in Montreal who owns the acetate LP, says he bought it at a Manhattan flea market for 75 cents in 2002.

The seller was Saturn Records, of Oakland, Calif., representing Hill, who owns a small vintage record shop run from the back of his house. He's not a Velvet fan, preferring instead "pre-war blues" and gospel music.

"I just want to sell it," a weary-sounding Hill, 30, said Wednesday by telephone.

The new auction had received no bids by Thursday evening.

The in-studio acetate was made during Velvet Underground's first recording session in April 1966 at New York's Scepter Studios. Andy Warhol, who designed the album cover -- a banana -- helped promote the band, which left its musical stamp on many other rock stars.

The acetate pressing reportedly is one of two in existence; the other is privately owned, with rumors circulating about that owner's identity.

Velvet Underground, named after a book about edgy sex practices in the 1960s, was fueled by Moe Tucker's hard-driving drumming, John Cale's anxious viola and lead singer Lou Reed, whose lyrics spoke of drug-induced beauty and the gritty realities of Manhattan's Lower East Side.

That first album featured Nico, the European model-actress-singer.

Hill's friend and fellow collector Eric Isaacson, of Mississippi Records, in Portland, Ore., had helped Hill decipher the nature of the lucky flea market find.

"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!" Isaacson wrote in the current issue of Goldmine magazine. "I realized that we had something special."

The first 10-day auction ended with the failed bid by the mystery buyer.

The bidder, apparently in his teens or twenties and wishing to remain anonymous, claims he left his work station while watching the auction and a co-worker made the bid.

For the new auction, which will last a week, interested bidders will have to register so their references can be examined.

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