The MBE medal that John Lennon returned to the Queen was found in a royal vault at St James’ Palace. John Lennon‘s MBE rejection letter to Queen Elizabeth II went on the auction in New York. It has been valued at around $86,000.
Lennon returned his medal in November, 1969 with a letter accompanying saying, “Your Majesty, I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts. With Love, John Lennon.” Historians were calling for the medal to be put on public display.
The letter, explaining the singer’s reasons for returning his royal medal, was discovered tucked away inside the sleeve of a record that was part of a collection picked up for just $14 two decades ago.
Julien’s Auctions’ upcoming Beatles and Rock ‘n’ Roll Discovery Day event at the Hard Rock Cafe will feature a treasure trove of Fab Four fare, with over 81,000 iconic pieces up for grabs. Highlights also include a collection of 26 negatives containing rare and never-before-seen photographs of John Lennon, taken in February, 1970.
Julien’s Auctions directors will be hoping for a landmark day after breaking world records with the sale of Beatles’ memorabilia, including Lennon’s acoustic guitar, Ringo Starr‘s Ludwig drum kit and The Beatles‘ “White Album” which is owned by Starr.
In the letter, Lennon seriously and playfully mapped out why he was sending back his MBE (Member of the British Empire) medal. “I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts,” referring to the singer’s 1969 single.
Lennon added his signature and credited the letter to “John Lennon of Bag,” referring to his and wife Yoko Ono’s “bagism” campaign.
The anonymous owner of the letter discovered it within the sleeve of a used record they bought for £10. At the Beatles Story exhibition Wednesday, a memorabilia expert put the value of the letter at roughly $72,000.
The letter is believed to be the first draft of the note Lennon ultimately sent to Queen Elizabeth; it’s speculated that because the handwriting on the letter became smudged, Lennon instead sent a more pristine copy.
“You can quite clearly see that the signature in this letter has been smudged. My theory is that John Lennon never sent this draft because of the smeared ink,” music memorabilia expert Darren Julien told CNN. “If you’re writing to The Queen, you want the letter to look pretty perfect, you don’t want the ink to be smudged. This suggests that he wrote a second version of the letter, which was the one that was actually sent to The Queen.”