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Music

John Lennon Interview Tape Fetches $58,240 at Danish Auction

September 29, 2021

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — A cassette tape with a 33-minute audio recording of John Lennon being interviewed by four Danish teenagers 51 years ago as well as an apparently unpublished song by the late Beatle fetched 370,000 kroner ($58,240) Tuesday at an auction in Denmark.

The tape, recorded on Jan. 5, 1970, chiefly consists of Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, speaking about being in Denmark and world peace. It also has the couple singing two songs: 1969's "Give Peace a Chance" and "Radio Peace," which was made for a radio station in the Netherlands but never released. 

The cassette was put up for sale by Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneer in Copenhagen, together with 29 still photos and a copy of the school newspaper for which the teenagers had interviewed Lennon and Ono. The pre-sale estimate for the lot was 200,000 kroner to 300,000 kroner ($31,481 to $47,222).

"It is a small item with lots of interest," auctioneer Jesper Bruun Rasmussen said as he brought the hammer down.

"I thought it was extraordinary that it went above the estimate," Alexa Bruun Rasmussen of Denmark's main auction house told The Associated Press. "Unfortunately it is confidential who the buyer is but I can reveal that it went abroad." 

The Danish teenagers did the interview in northern Denmark at the height of the Vietnam War and the Cold War because Lennon and Ono had "a message of peace, and that was what was important to us," Karsten Hoejen, who made the recording on a tape recorder borrowed from the local hi-fi shop, told The Associated Press.

After the sale in a packed auction hall, Hoejen said "it exceeded all expectations."

 "There is some kind of relief now," he said, adding the three surviving men who did the interview have not decided what to do with the money.

Lennon and Ono were in the northern Danish region of Thy because Ono's ex-husband had moved there and brought their 5-year-old daughter Kyoko with him. 

Alternative living communities also mushroomed in Denmark from the late 1960s, attracting people from abroad, and music festivals were organized there, inspired by Woodstock and the ones on the Isle of Wight.

Tuesday's auction was devoted to 20th-century artwork and featured 116 items for sale.

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