It makes no sense that this very common Series 1969 $1 Federal
Reserve note with multiple folds and tears would bear an estimated
selling price of 3,500 Swiss francs ($3,640 in U.S. funds), until one
looks at its back. It is only then that a few handwritten scribbles
move it from numismatics to the worlds of music and international pop culture.
Scrawled in blue ink in the center back is an inscription and the
signature of Beatle John Lennon. The note is clearly the most unusual
of the 770 lots of currency in the auction being held by Sincona AG on
May 18 in Zürich.
After the Beatles broke up in April 1970, Lennon and his wife, Yoko
Ono, began a number of projects, including an experimental film. The
film, known today as Legs for Peace, (originally Up Your Legs Forever)
would not be an Oscar candidate. It is about 75 minutes long and
contains nothing but 8- to 12-second segments of 367 different pairs
of legs shot from the toes to mid-thigh. The film was made in December
1970 at the Syndicate Photo studio on 61st Street in New York City.
Lennon and Ono did not have work permits, so the filming was done by
the couple’s friend Dan Richter. On Dec. 14 or 16, the son of the
studio’s owner was there to take some photos of the set. When asked by
John if he wanted to be part of the film he jumped at the chance and
said, “Sure, why not?” Only then was it revealed that the young man
was wearing a prosthetic leg because of an amputation (later he would
also lose his other leg). After shooting the scene, he asked Lennon
for an autograph. Lennon took out a $1 bill and wrote “Thanks for legs
/ John Lennon” — somewhat macabre in view of the amputation.
The bill has been consigned by an anonymous owner and comes with a
certificate of authentication from one of the world’s leading Beatles
memorabilia dealers and experts (Tracks Ltd., Chorley, Lancashire,