Beatle for Sale: Lennon Writings Bring $3 million

Posted on June 4, 2014 | by Jason Walsh

“Baby, you’re a rich man,” sang John Lennon—and you’d have to be to afford “The Fat Budgie.”

Some of the most deeply personal works of John Lennon went to the highest bidder this week, as Sotheby’s auction house in New York offered up an extensive collection of original poetry, short stories and illustrations composed by the late Beatle.

The 89 works on auction June 4 brought in just under $3 million--$209,000 alone bought Lennon’s nine-page Sherlock Holmes sendup, “The Singularge Experience of Miss Anne Duffield.” Other big-ticket items included a humorous poem titled “The Fat Budgie” ($143,000), and a drawing of a four-eyed guitarist ($109,375).

The pieces in the collection were first seen in In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works, Lennon’s books of pun-filled poetry and parodical short stories published in the mid-1960s. British publisher Tom Maschler has had the collection since the two books came out in 1964 and 1965, respectively.

Several items went for far more than expected. Among the surprises were “I Sat Belonely,” a handwritten manuscript which enjoyed a winning bid of $137,000, and a piece titled “Neville Club,” which sold for $100,000.

John Lennon fans largely think of his mid-‘60s period as the time his songwriting took an acoustic-tinged self-reflective turn, as songs such as “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and “In My Life” revealed a softer side to the Beatles frontman.  But in a 1971 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon described his fiction and drawings as being an even greater personal outlet than his songs.

The books, he told the magazine, contained “the personal stories which were expressive of [his] personal emotions.”

For a peak at Lennon during his introspective mid-60s period, check out the above clip of “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” from the movie Help!

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