A stunning exhibition of Beatles memorabilia receiving its debut at the Fair at the PNE on Saturday (August 22) includes one extremely chilling artifact—the copy of Double Fantasy autographed by John Lennon for his assassin, Mark Chapman.
It was signed by the former Beatle as he left the Dakota building for a recording session late in the afternoon of December 8, 1980. Chapman shot Lennon in the back when he returned five hours later. The album was stashed behind a planter in the Dakota courtyard and discovered the next day. An NYPD reference number is still visible on the jacket, along with the signature.
And now it sits in a glass case in Vancouver thanks to the efforts of four renowned Beatles memorabilia collectors, including Toronto’s Peter Miniaci, who brokered the sale of the grimly historic item for an anonymous donor also based in Toronto. Miniaci was there along with Massachusetts-based collector Jim Cushman when the media was given a sneak peak at The Magical History Tour: The Beatles Memorabilia Exhibition on Thursday (August 19). The exhibition gets its world debut exactly 51 years after the Beatles played at the very same location in Vancouver.
While Chapman’s copy of Double Fantasy inevitably fascinates, the rest of the impressive exhibit is considerably less morbid. The 1969 letter from Allen Klein to Paul McCartney’s manager Lee Eastman, which precipitated the Beatles’ split—it’s signed by Lennon, Starr, and Harrison—is the only other semi-bummer on display. Otherwise, visitors are greeted by John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls Royce as they enter the site, while the clavichord used on “For No One” has an equally holy aura.
Among the other items, including official merchandise, personal items, even locks of hair, a remarkable brick—for-brick recreation of the Cavern Club’s iconic vaulted stage gives a vivid impression of how tiny they used to build those post-war Brits. A trove of previously unseen stills from the band’s 1964 world tour, meanwhile, illustrates how unfathomably huge four of them would become.
The Magical History Tour: A Beatles Memorabilia Exhibition runs at the Fair at the PNE from August 22 to September 7.