IMAGINE NO POSSESSIONS

Beatles museum pleas to save #1.5million piece of pop history...

A plea has gone out for a benefactor to step in and save the piano that John Lennon wrote ‘IMAGINE’ on from being lost to British pop history.

With a reserve catalogue price of #1.5million, the Steinway upright Z piano is the showpiece of an auction of Beatles memorabilia hosted by Mick Fleetwood which takes place simultaneously in London, New York and on the web on October 17. Among other items included in the sale is Lennon‘s Ferrari, which has a reserve price of #120,000.

However, Shelagh Johnston, general manager and curator of The Beatles Story in Liverpool – where the current owner has let it sit on display on a free loan since February, insured for #3 million and encased in bullet-proof glass – said it would be a tragedy if such an important artefact was lost to the culture of the Beatles‘ home city and the nation.

“If someone bought it for their own investment or own love, we would be very happy to give it a home here, insured for whatever value was deemed necessary. It’s not sad that it’s going to be sold, if it goes to a good owner. But if it goes outside the UK, we at The Beatles Story will feel sad in the sense that it should really stay in Liverpool. We feel it belongs here.

“People come here from all over the world to try an touch the roots of The Beatles‘ music and their work, and that piano, we feel, is a vital part of that story. For it to be lost to the city will be a great sadness to us.”

She likened it to the loss of the original Cavern Club, which was demolished to make way for an underground railway. “That’s also a sad loss to the city it would have been a priceless treasure that we would have had to show visitors around. The piano could be a victim of the same lack of vision, in a sense.”

The present owner, who has remained anonymous but is described as one of Britain’s leading rock’n’roll memorabilia collectors with a great love of music, is believed to have owned the piano for around 10 years. Made in Hamburg, Lennon bought it in 1970 direct from the Steinway company. It will be sold complete with the certificate of provenance, with the serial number authenticated by Steinway. It has been captured in film footage, and bears the cigarette burn marks where Lennon became so engrossed in making music he left them to burn down and scar the wood.

“Look at the kind of money that’s been thrown at the Millennium Dome,” said Shelagh. “Millions upon millions of pounds, and that’s dead money, that will never gain in value. It’s a waste.

“I believe ‘Imagine’ and the instrument on which he wrote it are of greater value to the world than any other item of memorabilia that we have in our museum. If you had Mozart‘s piano now, what value would you place on that?”