John Lennon's Austin up for grabs
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An iconic Austin Princess hearse once owned by John Lennon is set to fetch about $NZ460,000 when it is auctioned this year.
The Beatles star used the British car fitted with aircraft seats as his personal limousine after buying it secondhand in August 1971.
Records shows that the car was registered in the name of John Ono Lennon at the address 3 Savile Row, which was the Mayfair base of the Beatles.
The logbook reveals that the car was “kept in Berks”, which refers to Lennon and wife Yoko Ono’s estate of Tittenhurst in Sunningdale, Berkshire.
Lennon owned the 1956 hearse when he was writing and recording Imagine in 1971, and the car appears prominently in the television film of the same name that was released the following year.
The Austin Princess was a popular model among celebrities in the 1950s and 1960s with The Beatles regularly travelling around in one.
The car was sold to a Californian in 1972 and has remained in the USA ever since but it is returning to Britain in September when it will be sold by R.M. Sotheby’s.
It has been given a guide price of $460,000 — about 20 times the price of a typical Austin Princess.
The car has the UK registration plate GNH 240 and the US registration plate EMAJIN.
It is understood the large rear door made quick access an easy task for when Lennon was being mobbed by fans.
Texan businessman and entrepreneur Milton Verret bought the car in 2005 and gave it to the Austin Rock & Roll Car Museum.
He said: “Now the museum wants to offer this rare vehicle at auction with the hope it will be seen and enjoyed by even more fans of John Lennon and the Beatles worldwide, while at the same time raising funds for deserving charities.”
A portion of the proceeds will go to Unicef, which was one of Lennon’s favourite charities. Make A Wish America and Dell Children’s Medical Centre will also benefit from the sale on September 7.
Peter Wallman, managing director of RM Europe, added: “Celebrity provenance doesn’t get stronger than this.”