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100 Stolen John Lennon Items Found in Berlin

The trove of memorabilia, which was stolen from Yoko Ono, includes Lennon’s diaries, glasses and handwritten music scores

Among the artifacts was a pair of John Lennon's glasses, complete with his optometrist's prescription. (Associated Press)
smithsonian.com

German authorities have seized around 100 items that once belonged to John Lennon from an auction house in Berlin. As Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper reports, the trove of personal effects—which includes the Beatles frontman’s diaries, two pairs of his signature round spectacles, and handwritten music scores—were stolen from Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, in 2006.

Police have arrested a 58-year-old man in suspicion of the theft. Additional items belonged to Lennon were found in the unnamed suspect’s car, hidden under a spare tire in the trunk. Another suspect resides in Turkey and, according to police, cannot be apprehended at this time. Kirsten Grieshaber of the Associated Press reports that the Turkish suspect is Ono’s former driver, who has a conviction related to the stolen items in New York.

It is not yet clear how the goods made their way from Ono’s New York residence to Auctionata, the Berlin auction house. German police were first alerted to the memorabilia in July, after a bankruptcy administrator for the auction house told authorities that he had discovered the items in the company’s storage. Police don’t know if the auctioneers realized they had purchased stolen goods from the two suspects; the items were never put up for sale.

Among the recovered objects are Lennon’s personal letters and photos, his cigarette case, his glasses, handwritten scores for “Woman” and “(Just Like) Starting Over.” Police also found three of Lennon’s leather-bound diaries, one of which includes an entry he made on the morning of December 8, 1980, hours before he was murdered in front of his New York apartment building. 

Prior to announcing their discovery, German police flew to New York so Ono could verify the authenticity of the items. “She was very emotional and we noticed clearly how much these things mean to her and how happy she would be to have them back,” prosecutor Susann Wettley tells Grieshaber of the AP. It remains unclear when Lennon’s effects will be permanently returned to Ono.

About Brigit Katz

Brigit Katz is a freelance writer is based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, including NYmag.com, Flavorwire and Tina Brown Media's Women in the World.

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