Friday, July 27, 2007

Auction for Keith Richards book tops $7M

July 24. 2007 2:40PM

The battle for Keith Richards’ autobiography has turned into the hottest auction of the summer. Bidding for a book by the Rolling Stones’ famed founding member, co-song writer and rhythm guitarist has reached $7.1 million, according to publishing industry sources.

London-based literary agent Ed Victor has been conducting the auction in New York this week, inviting just three houses to offer bids, according to one insider. HarperCollins and Little, Brown, a division of the Hachette Book Group USA, are the ones left vying for the title.

The $7 million offer would be for world English language rights. Translation rights, which Mr. Victor will sell separately, will push the total advance even higher.

Some publishing insiders were shaking their heads at how high the bidding has gone.

“This is Bill Clinton money,” says an executive not involved in the bidding. Knopf paid $10 million to $12 million for former President Clinton’s autobiography in 2001. “All the Stones books have covered him,” the executive adds.

Though a shelf full of books on the Rolling Stones has been published over the years, Mr. Richards’ own story could draw both old fans and new readers. The British press has said it would be “the holy grail of rock books.”

Mr. Richards, who had a bit part in the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie, is a colorful figure known for his keen musicianship and decades of excessive drug and alcohol use.

Some reports have questioned whether “Keef,” as he’s known in Britain, would remember enough of his past to write a book. In May, Mr. Victor told the New York Post that memory wouldn’t be an issue since Mr. Richards would collaborate with his friend of 30 years, the noted non-fiction author James Fox.

A call to Mr. Victor was not returned.

HarperCollins declined to comment. Executives at Little, Brown could not be reached.