Lot 2037

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JOHN LENNON (1940-1980) English singer and songwriter, the inspirational genius behind the success of The Beatles. Murdered outside his New York apartment. Shocking self-portrait in black ink on a 8.25 x 11.75 in. sheet of sketch book paper, a profile view of a smiling, long-haired, bespectacled Lennon standing at a podium, offering those before him a straight-armed Nazi salute. He writes his first name 'John' three times as part of the chant raised by the unseen crowd below: 'Heil John, Heil John, Heil John, Heil'. The sketch has two file holes with reinforcements at the left margin, each showing small rust stains, and with a vertical fold and a half-inch horizontal tear at the left edge, else very good. Accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity issued by FRANK CAIAZZO, the owner of 'The Beatles Autographs' and the world's leading expert on Beatles autographs for over 35 years. Caiazzo is known and respected by every major auction house and Beatles collector. A Certificate of Authenticity is also present from Roger Epperson Authentication, Ltd., another highly-respected rock autograph authenticator with many decades of experience. According to a letter of provenance available when this piece was offered in 2018 and now regrettably lost, the first owner owner acquired the sketch directly from CYNTHIA LENNON (1939-2015), John's first wife, in August of 1991. This was shortly before the 1991 Christies South Kensington auction of 'Musical Instruments and Pop Including the Cynthia Lennon Collection', whose catalog bore a sketch by Lennon on the cover very similar to ours. The purchaser explains that he met Cynthia Lennon by chance while viewing items belonging to her and John at the Christies preview. Cynthia asked the purchaser, an appraiser of Third Reich materials, to provide her a value of several items belonging to John Lennon which reflected his fascination with Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler in particular, and which Christies had refused to offer. These included the sketch presented here, as well as three additional sketches with similar themes reflecting John's Third Reich interest, two Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross medals with Oak Leaf Clusters, and a postwar Austrian commemorative medal. After providing values to Cynthia, the writer was allowed to purchase all of these items, on the condition that they were not to be sold until after Cynthia's death. Present with the sketch is a copy of the catalog cover for the Christie's sale, signed on the front cover in blue ink by Cynthia Lennon (copy only). The drawing presented here is believed to have been executed by Lennon while enrolled at the Liverpool College of Art, dating it 1956-1958. It is typical of his early work, which later evolved into his 'comic line' style, best exemplified in his books 'In His Own Write', 'A Spaniard in the Works' and 'Skywriting by Word of Mouth'. Lennon is known to have had a life-long obsession with Adolf Hitler, best exemplified by his insistence that Hitler appear on the cover of the 'Sgt. Pepper's' album, although the dictator was removed from the image at the last minute. Sold with several images of Lennon, the copy of the Christie's auction catalog cover, and the two certificates of authenticity. A superlative piece documenting an unknown side of one of the most revered rock writers and performers of all time.

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January 27, 2023 10:00 AM EST
Chesapeake City, MD, US

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

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Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $499 $20
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 $99,999 $5,000
$100,000 $999,999 $10,000
$1,000,000 $1,999,999 $50,000
$2,000,000 + $100,000