John Lennon Killer Back in the News -- Letters for sale

It seems like just the other day we were discussing people that collect autographs from people like Hitler. Now comes this disturbing story – letters from Mark David Chapmen are on the block. I love the fact that most people don’t know his name, because it’s one thing journalists always struggle with when it comes to people that kill or shoot famous folks. If you print their names when writing about them, it gives them that infamy they were possibly seeking. I just didn’t know how to tell the story otherwise.

Anyway, the guy that killed John Lennon wrote letters to police officer Stephen Spiro, who arrested him. In those letters, he detailed his obsession with the classic The Catcher in the Rye (which he was found reading on the steps as cops came to arrest him).

Now the story that everyone had talked about previously, was the copy of Double Fantasy that Chapman had Lennon autograph earlier. There are even photos of Lennon signing it, which is eerie.

That album ended up being dusted for prints, and some information was written on it by the police – like an evidence number. That album ended up selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and occasionally shows up at auction. I have no clue why anybody would want to pay the $75,000 Moments in Time is asking for these “historical documents.”

All the letters are typed and signed by Chapmen, and written over a few different months in 1983 (it was December 8, 1980 when he killed Lennon outside the Dakota Manhattan apartments).

It’s strange that in the first letter he mentions wanting to be Spiro’s friend. Also strange that he said he was in the middle of the book which is why he wants it back. Doesn’t the prison have a library? He got 20 years, surely that would be time to track that novel down.

The officer wrote back, hoping he could get evidence on other possible crimes, perhaps thinking Chapman was doing a Charles Manson type of thing, and had followers.

In one letter Chapman talks about Lennon being a “phony” (narrator Holden Caulfield refers to people as phonies through out the book). The officer admits to re-reading the novel, hoping to better relate to that nutjob.

Shortly after the letter correspondence, Spiro was injured and his career as with the NYPD ended. He kept the letters and now needs to pay medical bills due to cancer. I think it’s going to be a heart attack he has when he finds out nobody is willing to spend over a few hundred dollars for these.

Although, I was wrong when the coffin of Lee Harvey Oswald was dug up a few years ago and sold at auction. It ended up selling for $24,000 or so, if memory serves.

There are suckers out there, thinking this crap will be valuable. Or they just have this morbid curiosity which I can’t figure out. For the price of these letters, you could buy a few different sets of autographs by The Beatles.

Yoko Ono is celebrating her 80th birthday with a concert in Berlin. The widow still lives in the same apartment, and has refused to comment on this latest bit of news.



Views: 243

Tags: Dakota, John Lennon, Mark David Chapman, Moments in History, The Beatles, Yoko Ono

Comment by Sidney Fields on February 21, 2013 at 4:01pm

For some reason the NY Post loves the guy behind Moments in Time, Gary Zimet.

You may recall that several years ago he advertised  Robert Johsonn's guitar for sale.

For a mere $6 million...and without any provenance.

As far as I know, no one ever bothered to check with item with guys who were with Robert Johnson in those days.  David "Honeyboy " Edwards and Robert Lockwood were both still alive at the time.


Comment by Josh Board on February 23, 2013 at 2:22pm

That's interesting, Sidney. Thanks for posting that. God, having his guitar would be epic. I remember when George Michael bought Lennons famous white piano (which Imagine was written on), for a cool million bucks. I love the blues legends, though. I still regret that I didn't buy a signed Muddy Waters album at auction for $200. Nobody else had bid on it. Well, at least I got a harmonica signed by James Cotton! That's the nicest item in my blues collection.

But back to your point...anybody that paid that without provenance is an idiot. My friend owns a company (Rock Star Guitars), and they've sold some Hendrix guitars for hundreds of thousands of dollars. They have pictures, signed letters from the studio musician that had it...hell, even signed things in court from the Hendrix estate trying to sue him to say the guitars were stolen.

Comment by Carl Ryan on February 23, 2013 at 11:41pm

My specialty are guitarists. I have a huge collection from all genres, including the old blues greats such as John lee hooker, Wes Montgomery, Big Joe Williams, T Bone Walker, Honeyboy, Robert Lockwood, T model ford, albert king, bukka white, Homesick James, Lonnie Johnson, RL Burnside, and so on and so on. The old blues, especially the delta blues holds a deep interest for me. And their autographs are very few and far between. 

I have studied Robert Johnson extensively, and to my knowledge, their are a total of ZERO Robert Johnson artifacts out their that have been for sale. Now somewhere someone has one, regardless of if they even know it, but i have never heard of anything authentic every for sale. The only autograph i am aware of was on a marriage license that Johnson's family estate owns. And thats all.

You can bet that if Robert Johnsons guitar was found and up for auction, the price would go for millions on top of millions. Johnson is one of the biggest cult figures to have every played the instrument. Almost every guitarists in history has quoted him as a major influence. Blues and Jazz players often worship his material. He literally laid the foundation for modern blues.

This would drawl guitar greats from all around the world for such an item for sale. Anyone from Clapton to BB, to Berry, to Page, to Gilmour, to Meola to virtually all the guitar greats still alive, would bid the heck out of such an item. AS not only would it be historic on a magnitudal scale when it comes to guitar, but it also would likely be extremely valuable from a playable scale. Old guitars are often the best for sound qualities, and the more well played the better.

That seller has never handled the 8th generation dirty dishes of Robert Johnson, let alone his guitar. How pathetic.

Comment by Sidney Fields on February 24, 2013 at 1:59pm

Amen, Carl.

That's some collection of guitar men. Did you get many in person?

Josh...I so wish i would have seen Muddy.  That's why I've tried to see the greats who are still with us...Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee.  We just lost Magic Slim...I used to try to catch his band whenever he hit New York.

Josh, I see you're on the west coast.  As a boxing fan you've got to try to get to the IBHOF inductions one June in Canastota, NY.

So many great fighters and usually relatively few fans.  2014 should draw a lot of big names when (presumably) Oscar goes in.  This year the biggest names are Arturo Gatti and Virgil Hill.



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