A Motown memorabilia collector was browsing through a box of albums at an estate sale, and decided to purchase several of them with prices ranging from twenty-five to fifty cents.
When he got home and started looking through the albums, he made the discovery of a lifetime. There in one of the album covers was Marvin Gaye’s passport dating from 1964, the same year that his hit How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) was released. “When I got home, I was going through them and out of an album fell this passport,” said the man, who was not identified. “And so, it literally fell into my hands.”
The man, who was a former employee of the Motown Museum in Detroit, was in shock at what he had found. He took the passport to PBS’ Antiques Roadshow, where it appeared on the February 3 episode.
“The thing I’m in love with is how young he is here,” appraiser Laura Woolley said. “This is dated 1964, which is great, and it is after he added the ‘E’ to the end of his name, because when he was signed as a solo artist with Motown, he decided to add that ‘E,’ and there’s a lot of different theories: People say it’s because he wanted to separate himself from his father or because he actually liked Sam Cooke so much, who had an ‘E’ at the end of his name, that he wanted to imitate his idol.”
“This is such an innocent time, and people love passports because they also show where he was all over the world, what he’s doing during these years — he’s obviously traveling, he’s touring,” Woolley continued. “People also like them because we know that they’re real signatures, because you have to sign your own passport.”
The man then told Woolley what he had paid for the album, to which she replied: “Wow. For insurance, I wouldn’t put less than $20,000 on the passport if you were to insure it.”
Again, the man was in a state of shock. He never knew that he held an item of such value. “Wow. I never would have thought. I mean, I’m just shocked. I mean… wow. Oh gosh, thank you,” he said.