John Lennon’s Scathing Post-Beatles Breakup Letter to Paul McCartney Goes to Auction
A scathing letter that John Lennon wrote to Paul McCartney in the aftermath of the Beatles’ breakup is set to hit the auction block.
The 1971 typewritten and hand-notated letter, offered through auction house Gotta Have Rock and Roll, was penned by Lennon in response to McCartney’s then-recent interview with Melody Maker. In the article, McCartney openly discussed the dissolution of the Beatles’ partnership as well as his thoughts on Lennon and Yoko Ono (or the singular “JOHNANDYOKO,” as Lennon himself calls the couple in the letter.)
Much of the letter — addressed to the editors of Melody Maker; “please publish ‘equal time,’” Lennon wrote at the top — focuses on the legal battle that brewed between McCartney and Lennon following the Beatles’ breakup, detailing their fraught relationship as their respective lawyers haggled over royalties, Apple Records, and the Lennon/McCartney writing credit.
“We give you money for your bits of Apple,” Lennon wrote. “We give you more money in the form of royalties, which legally belong to Apple. (I know we’re Apple, but on the other hand, we’re not.)”
Lennon also accuses McCartney of attempting to get George Harrison and Ringo Starr to turn on Lennon in the legal battle. “If you’re not the aggressor (as you claim), who the hell took us to court and shit all over us in public?,” Lennon asks.
Elsewhere in the letter, Lennon defended his then-recent single “Imagine” against McCartney’s criticisms (“It’s ‘working class here’ with sugar on it for conservatives like yourself”) as well as a string of impromptu concerts that the Plastic Ono Band performed at the time (“It’s best to just DO IT, I know you’ll dig it, and they don’t expect the Beatles now anyway!”).
Lennon also discusses his recent move to New York City, “the only place to be.” “I’ll bet you your piece of the Apple you’ll be living in New York by 1974 (2 years is the usual time it takes you — right?)”
The letter also includes a bunch of digs at McCartney’s expense. “If we’re not cool, WHAT DOES THAT MAKE YOU,” Lennon all-capped. “No hard feelings to you either. I know we basically want the same, and as I said on the phone and in this letter, whenever you want to meet, all you have to do is call.”
In addition to Lennon’s signature, the letter sports a handwritten P.P.S.: “Even your own lawyers know you can’t ‘just sign a bit of paper’ (or don’t they tell you?!).”
Gotta Have Rock and Roll estimates that bidding on the authenticated letter will reach $40,000 by the time the auction closes on Aug. 19; it currently has a high bid of $22,000.