Sign from 1969 Lennon 'Bed-In' could fetch up to $160,000 at auction
By Randy Boswell, Postmedia News
Money was a prime villain — along with war, bigotry and some of the other ills of modern society — when Beatles mega-star John Lennon and his newlywed wife Yoko Ono spent a famous week in bed at a Montreal hotel in 1969 to promote peace, love and pyjama power.
But various artifacts created during Lennon and Ono's historic stay in Canada continue to fetch stunning prices at auctions around the world, and the latest relic from the couple's Montreal "Bed-In For Peace" — a simple placard with the words "BED" and "PEACE" scribbled by Lennon in black marker — is expected to fetch up to $160,000 at a Christie's sale of pop culture memorabilia next month in Britain.
The crudely drawn sign includes one of Lennon's trademark, miniature doodle-portraits of himself and Ono, as well as each of their signatures and a scrawled "1969 Montreal."
The placard can be seen in vintage photos of the event, taped to the window above Lennon and Ono's bed in suite 1742 of Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel, where the couple stayed from May 26 to June 2, 1969.
The renowned musician and his wife welcomed scores of friends, fans, fellow musicians, reporters, photographers and others into their room during their seven-day Montreal retreat, which took place two months after the couple's honeymoon bed-in at the Amsterdam Hilton.
"Throughout the week, the couple sat up in bed in their nightclothes and opened their doors to the worlds' media, speaking to as many radio and TV journalists, politicians and counter-culture figures as would listen, with Lennon's objective being to sell the idea of peace to the world," Christie's states the catalogue for its Nov. 15 sale of pop and rock memorabilia.
Described by curators as perhaps "the most representative" of the many placards Lennon produced during his week in Montreal, the "Bed Peace" poster "stayed prominently above the couple's bed for the duration — from when doors were first opened to the world's press, to after the event had finished, when it can still be seen attached to the window in photographs showing the room being cleaned."
The highlight of the couple's Canadian publicity stunt was the composition and recording of Lennon's antiwar anthem Give Peace A Chance during the bed-in. A piece of paper bearing the hand-written lyrics to the song, given by Lennon to star-struck Montreal teenager Gail Renard after the recording session, was sold for $800,000 at a Christie's auction in 2008.
In 2009, another Lennon placard that had adorned the hotel room — this one with the hand-written message "L'Amour et la Paix" (Love and Peace) — initially was expected to attract a top bid of $70,000 at a Christie's sale in London. Instead, it sold for twice that amount — $140,000.
"John and Yoko's Bed-In in Montreal has become a historic moment of 20th century culture," Neil Roberts, head of Christie's pop culture division, told Postmedia News on Thursday. "John Lennon was one of the most famous people alive, and together with Yoko, they captivated the sentiment of a generation against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Memorabilia associated with this historic event continues to appeal, resonate and attract interest from a huge number of collectors."
Christie's would not disclose the identity of the placard's consignor or whether it has been in the possession of someone from Canada. But the auction house stated that the artifact "was acquired by a freelance sound man who was present in the room as things came to an end" in Montreal on June 2, 1969.
"He subsequently passed it on to a colleague, whose family have retained it ever since," Christie's noted. "This is the first time that this unique historic placard has ever been offered at auction."