Rolls Royce Phantom V owned by John Lennon
The Rolls Royce Phantom V owned by John Lennon is the most expensive piece of music memorabilia ever sold at auction.

It fetched $2.29 million in 1985.

History

Rolls Royce Phantom V owned by John Lennon
Rolls Royce Phantom V owned by John Lennon
rolls

John Lennon bought the car in 1965. The 19-foot vehicle came with the licence plate number FJB111C.

Lennon quickly began making alterations to the car and installed a Sterno Radio Telephone with its own telephone number in December 1965.1

During 1966 Lennon converted the back seat to a double bed and installed a sound system, in addition to a Sony television and fridge.

Descriptions of the car in its original condition differ, with confusion as to whether it was painted white or matt black overall. In 1967 the car was matte black - a colour too dull for Lennon in the midst of his and the Beatles’ psychedelic phase.

In April Lennon had the car painted in a psychedelic fashion. On Lennon’s behalf, coachworks company JP Fallon Ltd commissioned The Fool, a group of Dutch gypsy artists, to carry out the overhaul – the same group who painted Lennon’s caravan in his garden in Weybridge(the car was actually painted by Steve Weaver and his work carried a price of 290 euros. The Fool designed and painted the pattern of flowers on a yellow background for £2,000.2

The Beatles used the car as their main means of transportation from 1967 until they disbanded in 1970.3

When Lennon and Yoko Ono moved to the USA in 1970 Lennon had the car shipped over. A number of musicians made use of it, including the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

The car was placed in storage during 1977 before being donated to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York in 1978. It remained there until 1985, when it was auctioned.

Sale

The car was auctioned on June 29, 1985 through Sotheby’s. The auction house had placed an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 on the vehicle. When the gavel came down, Canadian millionaire Jim Pattison had bought it for $2.29 million, making it the most expensive car ever auctioned at the time.

Pattison placed the car at Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum in South Carolina and installed the South Carolina licence plates LENNON.

The Phantom V was then loaned to Expo ‘86 in Vancouver and currently resides at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria.

See also

Main article: List of notable music memorabilia

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