KENT, England – A pair of John Lennon’s trademark ‘granny’ glasses, from one of the last Beatles concerts ever, is currently being auctioned off on music memorabilia website www.991.com.
A year of contradiction for The Beatles was 1966. It was a particularly memorable – and turbulent – year for British band. It was the year in which The Beatles saw their music banned in several countries around the world, as well as the year in which Lennon made his infamous “bigger than Jesus” comment, which sparked massive protest against the Fab Four in America.
“The interest has been phenomenal,” John Warner, the sales director of 991.com told the BBC. “Our phones have been in meltdown.”
The spectacles themselves, given by Lennon to Junishi Yore, his Japanese Interpreter in Tokyo, came from a quick trip to Japan by the band to play five shows at the sacred Buddhist shrine of Budokan. The shows, considered profane by some Japanese, sparked a firestorm in the country and led to The Beatles being forced to spend three days holed up in their hotel room with only Yore and their photographer, Bob Whitaker.
The gold-rimmed spectacles, as of Antique Trader’s press time just before the July 31 end date of bidding, are expected to raise up to $2 million in worldwide bidding when the auction closes.
“An item like this comes up so infrequently that it’s impossible to predict how high the bidding will go,” said Warner, “but we are anticipating huge interest from all over the world, both from institutions and private collectors, especially in the USA and Japan.”
The glasses are unusual because their owner, former interpreter Junishi Yore, pushed out the lenses with his thumb on the day of Lennon’s death in 1980, in accordance with his religious beliefs.
At the end of The Beatles’ fifth and final Budokan concert, Lennon and his translator, Junishi Yore, exchanged gifts in the Japanese tradition. The interpreter, who later became a television producer, presented the Beatle with a set of traditional copper cups; Lennon donated a pair of his sunglasses.
In a handwritten note from 1984, when he parted company with the gift, Yore confirms their provenance, and describes how, as a mark of respect, he removed the lenses with his thumb on the day the Beatle was shot dead outside his New York apartment on December 8, 1980.
He writes: “John Lennon sunglass no lense (sic), given to myself producer Nippon TV Network, at time translator for Beatles At Tokyo Hilton. John Lennon wore same glasses at Budokan for shows, had silver glass too.
“He gave me this, I gave copper cups to him. Very nice man. Lenses removed when he die (black) as I/we feel he see us after death in Japan. Regards, Junishi Yore, Producer NTV Tokyo Japan Nippon Television, 1984.”
“They are a massively iconic item from one of the greatest luminaries of pop,” Warner said. “1966 was a rollercoaster year that saw Lennon creating his own identity, of which the round glasses were very much a part.
There was no reserve placed the spectacles. For more information, go online to www.991.com.