FBI Seizes $100,000 John Lennon Fingerprints from Auction
Source:Artinfo.com Date: 2010-10-16 Size:
As John Lennon’s would-be 70th birthday approaches this weekend, groups around the world are putting the spotlight on the assassinated Beatle in their own way.

 

NEW YORK— As John Lennon’s would-be 70th birthday approaches this weekend, groups around the world are putting the spotlight on the assassinated Beatle in their own way — even the FBI, longtime adversaries of the outspoken singer, which yesterday seized a set of his fingerprints from a midtown Manhattan business that had been planning to auction the memento for more than $100,000. The piece of heavy square paper, its corners thumbed with use, gives Lennon's address as 1 West 72nd street, or the Dakota building, outside of which he was killed on December 8, 1980.

Confiscated from memorabilia sellers Gotta Have It!, which had slated the document to headline a 836-lot auction, the fingerprints have a rather dubious history, and it remains unclear how they ended up in public ownership. Both the Department of Homeland Security and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office showed up to the auction, and inquired about how the fingerprints were obtained before subpoenaing them to investigate whether they're government property, according to Reuters.

During his life, Lennon became a foe of the FBI in the early 1970s due to his antiwar activist activities, and his life and belongings have been under surveillance — to some extent — ever since. "I’ve been doing this for 20 years and have never had this much government interest in something," Gotta Have It! owner Peter Siegel told the New York Times. "Here he is, one of our greatest musicians ever, and they just don’t stop investigating the guy." Further mystifying matters, however, Sotheby’s somehow managed to sell a comparable fingerprint card in 1991 for over $4,000 without any government interference.

While the FBI continues its probe, other less antagonistic Lennon fanatics — i.e. just plain fans — are planning a variety of tributes to the late musician. The GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles has installed an extensive commemorative exhibition of memorabilia, Pete Seeger and Ozzy Osbourne are performing Lennon covers for charity, and Yoko Ono plans to premiere the eagerly anticipated documentary "LENNONYC" in Central Park as part of the New York Film Festival. Providing an intimate glimpse into Lennon’s life in 1970s Manhattan, as he was living with Yoko and their son, Sean Lennon, and reaching the peak of his political sway, the film may hold clues as to why a paranoid FBI would continue to hound his legacy even beyond the grave.

[Editor] Elemy Liu

    Artintern