As if Smashing Pumpkins fans weren’t stoked enough that pre-orders were being accepted for the new Pumpkins release, Oceania, lo and behold the
crown jewel and holy grail of Pumpkins collectors, Machina II (an oustanding and unreleased gem) hit the auction listings on eBay that same week. But, not for long.
The extremely rare, unreleased (and critically acclaimed) 5-piece vinyl album set opened with a bid of $995. Only 25 (twenty-five) hand-cut, hand-numbered, non-lacquered acetate copies of Machina II actually exist. As bids quickly rose to $4000, then $6700 (supposedly one proxy bid was for $10k), Mr. Corgan was asked about the legitimacy of the auction via his Twitter account. His reply on Twitter: “I think it’s a phony pony…looks too good to be true and the lack of provenance is a bad sign.“
The seller answered questions from the ad stating that the original is the copy given to Q101, a popular Chicago radio station, and that she/he is not the original owner. Ok, well that earned another tweet from Mr. Corgan: “if Machina 2 is the Q101 copy than it should not be made available for sale because it was given as promo only and SP owns rights.”
The plot thickened more as SP fans became something of a conduit between the seller and Billy’s tweets. Then the inevitable happened….
Bye-Bye auction. Bye-bye.
So what happened over the weekend? You guessed, it got magically pulled from eBay – presumably by the seller. No longer a valid listing and gone before the end of the auction. The seller eventually reached out to a member on the Pumpkins fan forum Netphoria with the following reported (but unverified) explanation: “Sorry but I had to pull this listing … Even though I obtained this item legitimately I didnt realize that Billy Corgan would have a problem with the selling of it. I dont want to upset him. I didnt realize it would be such a big deal.”
In September of 2000 Machina II was intended to be Billy Corgan’s final Smashing Pumpkins album and his gift to the fans. The 25 copies were made and were given to close friends with instructions to distribute the songs via mp3 files. And oh how they did. One of the most bootlegged albums of all time, not simply because of its rarity, but because of its quality. Arguably outclassing its commercially available predecessor Machina I (or perhaps we just love what we can’t have) it has remain unreleased with a potential reissue coming in 2013. Consisting of 25 songs over 5 vinyl discs (three 10″ EP’s, and two 12″ LP’s) it remains one of the most sought after gems for both record collectors and Smashing Pumpkins fans.
So, given all the jibjab taking place, here’s what we think we think:
- The Machina II copy for sale on eBay was probably legit.
- It was probably the actual copy that radio station Q101 previously owned.
- The seller had other items for sale that showed a potential connection with Q101. This increased the odds that the Machina II copy was real.
- Billy Corgan was probably disgruntled by the auction posting, quite a bit perhaps. We can understand that reasoning.
- The Machina II eBay sale was on pace to perhaps go as high as $10-15k. That’s amazing.
- One reason the value is so high is because the music is very highly regarded by fans and critics alike.
- Billy Corgan (or his management) probably did not contact the seller (and we don’t think he did) to voice his displeasure over the auction of his music that he originally distributed at no charge, but he had every right to do so. He has as much right to share his opinion as we do, or any fan does. Billy didn’t give this album away to see someone make $10-$15k off of it without providing his 2 cents worth.
- Billy Corgan probably has zero legal ownership rights to this copy of Machina II but he clearly has a strong, vested interest, and rightly so.