Lennon’s ‘Shroud of Tourin’ for sale
An original signed artwork by John Lennon called the ‘Shroud of Tourin’ in which he depicts himself as Christ has emerged for sale – and includes a newly discovered image.
The legendary singer-songwriter created the bizarre work in the autumn of 1966 just after his comments about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus caused a stir in the US.
The unique and rarely seen canvas is similar to the original shroud in Turin in that it is hard to see and the details emerge only after close examination.
Indeed, one image has only just been discovered and shows another Lennon self-portrait in which he is gagged.
It was only revealed when all the colour was taken out of a photo of the reverse of the shroud – just like the real Turin Shroud in which the image is clearer in a negative view.
It is claimed that the words on the shroud – which measures 26.5 X 18 inches – later morphed into the song ‘Strawberry Fields’.
Lennon created the piece – now expected to sell with an estimate of £75,000 – when he was on the set of the film How I Won The War where he became friends with actor Ronald Lacey.
He gave the shroud to Lacey who passed it on to a friend.
A letter from that friend, dated 1977, explains how the shroud was made.
It states that Lennon and Lacey – who until that point had never experimented with drugs – ate some chocolate laced with ‘illegal substances’ that were delivered to the film set in a hamper.
The letter goes on to say that ‘Mr Lennon…had a vision that became a revelation!!’
The Beatle apparently saw an apparition like the Shroud of Turin and because Lacey had ‘conked out’ set about recreating it on the piece of canvas for him.
According to the letter ‘he was empowered to be John the individual instead of John the Beatle’.
The image’s title ‘Shroud of Tourin’ is a reference to John Lennon’s dislike of touring – he had been on the road for years at that stage. Indeed it was after Lennon’s quip that the band was more popular than Jesus that they ceased touring.
The canvas shows a picture that is three dimensional. It has Lennon wearing two pairs of glasses and a Batman symbol across his chest.
He has his fists held in front of him, with ‘love’ and ‘hate’ written on the knuckles.
To the left is a cross on a hill with a crown above it and the word ‘Elvis’.
Words are written across the image. They include: ‘Spectacles – wife child love – maijhuana [sic],’ ‘Holy Batman I knew this would happen,’ and below the drawing of a radio ‘tune in if you want.’
The ‘shroud’ has been owned by a collector for many years and is to go under the hammer at an online CooperOwen sale.
Louise Cooper, owner-managing director of CooperOwen Music Media Auctions of London, said: “The shroud is an astonishing relic, created by John Lennon at the height of his fame in 1966.
“It is a peculiar story about how he made it when he was on set with Ronald Lacey and after apparently taking some drugs, probably marijuana.
“He gave it to Lacey who then passed it on to a friend who wrote a letter describing how it was created and why.
“For any Lennon or Beatles’ memorabilia collector this is an important piece.
“Lennon made it shortly after his comment about The Beatles being more popular than Jesus caused such controversy. It is also said that the shroud inspired the writing of ‘Strawberry Fields’.
“How he made it I don’t know, but it’s like the real shroud in that you see more in a photo of it than in real life – and now a new, previously unknown image has been revealed.
“This discovery has really got people excited and has made the shroud even more desirable.
“The front is drawn in 3D and contains some rather random-sounding words and phrases.
“We are anticipating a lot of interest in the sale from around the world.
“From a collecting or investing point of view our sale is a very special date and outside of Europe the big buyers can be found in the US, Russia, Australia and Japan.
“The market for music and movie-related memorabilia is massive and many items are bought by investors.
“We have been bombarded with some amazing pieces of music history from all over the world.”
All items are available for bidders during a five week period – but offers can be sent to email@example.com
CooperOwen is shortly to introduce an auction app.
Actor Ronald Lacey, who died in 1991, is probably best remembered for his villainous roles in Hollywood films, most famously Gestapo agent Major Arnold Ernst Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark.