Lennon`s fingerprints seized by FBI

Updated: Oct 08, 2010, 13:04 PM IST

London: A set of John Lennon`s fingerprints that were due for auction has been seized by the FBI from a memorabilia shop in New York, a media report said Friday.

The agents from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security raided the shop in Manhattan Wednesday, the Independent reported on its website.

The signed fingerprint card, made at a police station May 8, 1976, when singer Lennon was applying for citizenship, was part of a Gotta Have It! auction of 850 lots, including Lennon and McCartney`s earliest known signatures and a handwritten set list, including Stuart Sutcliffe, the Beatles` original bass player.

But the fingerprints, for which a minimum bid of $100,000 had been set, were to have been the highlight of the sale, which will mark what would have been Lennon`s 70th birthday.

"We now have 849 lots," the shop`s owner, Peter Siegel, said last night. "The whole thing is weird, very odd."

Siegel explained that the card was being sold on behalf of a private collector, a former concert promoter who had bought it at a Beatles convention about two decades ago.

"He bought it legally. We spoke to him yesterday (Thursday). He will try and get it back but I don`t think he will have much luck," the shop owner said.

Lennon was under FBI surveillance in the early 1970s for anti-war activism, but that ended with the J. Edgar Hoover era in 1972.

As the card seized Wednesday, there was speculation that the FBI simply wanted to know how government property had fallen into private ownership.

James Margolin, a spokesman for the agency, said the FBI was investigating how the item "came to be up for auction".

According to the New York Times, Leon Wildes, Lennon`s immigration lawyer in the 1970s, offered a theory about the document`s provenance.

He said that during the summer of 1976, he happened to have some of Lennon`s paperwork with him, including a fingerprint form, while he was making a television appearance.

"When I returned from New York, it turned out it was missing," he said. "I was very upset. We called about it, and nobody seemed to know where it was."

Siegel pointed out that this was not the first time a Lennon fingerprint card had been sold. In 1991 Sotheby`s auctioned a similar one for $4,125 without any fuss.