Some might call it a piece of rock 'n' roll history; others may deem it a sick curiosity item.
Whatever the different views, a New York artifacts dealer is hoping that someone will pay
nearly $2 million to own the album that former Beatle John Lennon signed for Mark
David Chapman only hours before Chapman shot him to death on a New York City
Gary Zimet, president of the Washingtonville, N.Y., rarities company Moments In Time,
agreed to sell the album on behalf of its owner for $1.8 million. "This is the most unique
artifact in rock history, and there are no comparables, price-wise," Zimet said.
The album was immortalized in a photograph of a leather-jacketed Lennon looking down
at the record as he signed it for Chapman on Dec. 8, 1980, only hours before the crazed
Beatle fan shot him seven times as Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono, looked on in horror.
The copy of Lennon and Ono's #1 album Double Fantasy (1980) features the
autograph "John Lennon 1980" scribbled over Yoko's neck on the cover. "It's almost
certainly the last time Lennon signed his name," Zimet said. The album's owner -- who
has requested complete anonymity -- found it lying in a flower planter outside the Dakota
apartment building where Chapman murdered Lennon.
Just above the signature is a police identification number, attached to the album so it
could be used as evidence in the murder case against Chapman. Both the album cover
and its inner jacket feature Chapman's fingerprints, highlighted by police-applied dust.
Guaranteeing the album's authenticity, Zimet said, are letters from the New York police
department and district attorney, thanking the owner for its use in the trial.
Zimet said it's difficult to predict who will pay the exorbitant fee for the record, but he
imagines it will be a party with ties to the music community, such as the Hard Rock Cafe
restaurant chain, or a wealthy collector such as pop superstar Michael Jackson. If no one
offers the $1.8 million asked, the album will likely be put up for auction.
Zimet -- whose "Moments In Time" website also sells autographs from Diana, the late
Princess of Wales, and notes from assassinated President John F. Kennedy -- said he's
unconcerned about potential criticisms that the album's sale is an example of morbid
"The owner and I have jointly decided that we will donate a portion of the proceeds to
Handgun Control, Inc., mainly to offset the negative spin, but also because it's the right
thing to do," Zimet said.
The portion to be donated is as yet undetermined.