Cooper Owen, specialists in “Rock Legends” memorabilia auctions, yesterday sold $1.75 million worth of John Lennon items during a sale at London’s Hippodrome nightclub.
The Big Tuna of the sale — called by Cooper Owen director Ted Owen “the Holy Grail of Beatles lyrics” — was Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for “All You Need is Love,” rescued from the floor beneath his music stand after The Beatles’ final television appearance in 1967, which sold for $1 million. A young woman working for the BBC at the time retrieved the manuscript and she provided a letter of authenticity for Thursday’s sale.
Owen said, “It’s probably one of the few remaining Beatles lyrics in private collectors’ hands and one of the most important musical manuscripts in existence. It was the anthem of the peace movement … the anthem of 1967.”
The John Lennon Collection took over 25 years to assemble by one anonymous collector and spanned key moments in the icon’s life from his art school days in Liverpool, through his entire Beatles’ career, to the recording of his final solo album. The collection was displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for five years, at the Beatles Story Museum for one year, and is noteworthy for the items’ “rarity, importance, and cultural significance.” Cooper Owen called it “the most definitive collection of John Lennon memorabilia ever assembled.”
The World War One military bandsman tunic, worn by Lennon for a 1966 Life magazine photo shoot and a presage of the Sgt Pepper’s look, sold for $175,000. A piano from Lennon’s New York apartment drew $245,000, and watercolors painted by an 11 year-old Lennon were bought for $123,000. A pair of round “Lennon glasses,” complete with box addressed to “Mr. John Lennon,” went for $97,000.
As a fan of popular culture, I can understand the value of relics actually involved with the creation of pop history, but I am befuddled by the value some people put on items simply touched, or even just associated with pop culture figures, as if the relic is infused with the artist’s mojo by osmosis. This one seems like a pretty legitimate, iconic sale however.
Michael J. West has interesting thoughts on Lennon’s “hero” status here.